entertainment bars empty out in phuket, thailand amid the covid-19 pandemic. Photo by Thomas De Cian/NurPhoto via AP
A man’s search for companionship went viral this week due to the particular demand he wrote on social media: He wanted an escort who could prove she had COVID-19.
“I only look for infected people. Work starts at 10 p.m.,” wrote one person writing on behalf of a client in a Line messaging group, a screenshot of which was widely shared on Facebook since January 11. “The customer wants to be positive [for COVID-19]“, the message continues, adding that the companion should be able to prove that she has the virus by presenting an antigen test kit with “two lines” indicating a positive result.
The man offered 3,000 to 5,000 Thai baht ($90 to $150) for the service, saying he only wanted to breathe rather than exchange bodily fluids. He paid a commission of 600 baht ($18) for anyone who might act as a broker.
He then clarified that he wanted an “EN up, EN only” service, which was code for “entertainment only”, with alcohol and party drugs allowed but no sex, according to local authorities. reports.
As much of the world battles to stem the spread of the virus, one man’s quest to get infected goes against the tide. A masochistic kink perhaps? The suspicion, according to insurance officials and Thai media, is that he was planning to make an insurance claim.
In Thailand, insurance companies are offering plans covering COVID-19, with payouts of up to 200,000 baht ($6,000) for infected customers. Nikkei reported in July that cash claims from COVID-19 insurance policies in the country increased tenfold between the start of the pandemic and mid-2021, prompting some policy providers to stop offering coverage and investigation of the ‘Thai Office of the Insurance Commission.
Videos of families celebrating after receiving payments from COVID-19 insurance policies went viral last year, with the Thai General Insurance Association warning people that fraud charges would be filed against policyholders who deliberately contract the virus. virus.
“There is even a young woman selling inhalers on her Facebook page which she says contain the coronavirus,” a senior OIC official said. Nikkei. “Buyers can use the inhalers to get infected and then claim compensation.”
A local report said an investigation identified the man responsible for the recent ad and found he had a COVID-19 insurance plan. The case caught the attention of the insurance authority, which warned of a lawsuit, saying the man’s attempt to deliberately contract the virus “may be reported as insurance fraud and may constitute a criminal offence.”
Anyone found guilty of such an offense could face a jail term of up to three years or a fine of up to 300,000 baht ($9,000), or both, according to local reports.
Some analysts have attributed this trend to increasing poverty. Thailand’s economy, dependent on tourism, took a nosedive as borders closed during the pandemic, experiencing its worst economic downturn since the 1997 Asian financial crisis and plunging nearly 800,000 people in poverty.
An attempt to reopen to foreign tourists was scuppered by the Omicron variant, with quarantine for international arrivals reimposed last month to combat its spread.
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