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Thai quarantine flip-flop throws holidays into doubt

Thai quarantine flip-flop throws holidays into doubt

THAILAND: Thailand threw possibly tens of thousands of holiday plans into confusion after Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul ordered any new arrivals from nine countries and two territories to undergo quarantine for the coronavirus, before swiftly reversing the decision.

CoronavirusCOVID-19healthSafetytourism
By AFP

Thursday 5 March 2020, 08:22AM


Tourists wear protective masks and other gears at Suvarnabhumi airport yesterday (Mar 4). Photo:  Wichan Charoenkiatpakul

Tourists wear protective masks and other gears at Suvarnabhumi airport yesterday (Mar 4). Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul

Mr Anutin posted an announcement Tuesday (Mar 3) saying travellers from affected countries would be subjected to a 14-day quarantine “without exceptions”.

The countries were China, South Korea, Japan, Germany, France, Singapore, Italy, Iran and Taiwan. Hong Kong and Macau were also included on the list.

The post was removed hours later, and his official Facebook page was taken down.

Mr Anutin is no stranger to gaffes.

Last month he lashed out at “Western” tourists for not wearing face masks, suggesting they should be expelled for putting others at risk. He later apologised on his Facebook page.

Tourism is a lynchpin of Thailand’s economy, but the government has struggled to balance health concerns and virus control with salvaging flagging growth as Chinese visitors have evaporated.

The beginning of 2020 was supposed to bring 7 million tourists to Thailand, but numbers have tumbled in the wake of the epidemic.

Mr Anutin’s apparent moment of indecision - which fanned waves of concern on Twitter among Thais and foreign travellers - was played down yesterday (Mar 4) by Public Health Ministry spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin.

Thanyapura Health 360

“We have to wait which country would be designated as a risk country,” said the spokesman during a daily press briefing, explaining that Mr Anutin needed the list to be “reviewed”.

Similar uncertainty pervades the government’s handling of the return of some 5,000 undocumented Thai labourers - nicknamed “little ghosts” - working in South Korea.

Premier Prayut Chan-o-Cha said yesterday the workers who came from South Korea’s two hardest-hit areas - Daegu and neighbouring North Gyeongsang province - would be subjected to quarantine.

“This will make people feel more at ease,” he said.

The others will return to their hometown where provincial health officers will monitor them daily, said an official from the Department of Disease Control.

South Korea has reported than 5,621 cases and 35 fatalities.

The government’s lack of monitoring of the returnees has spurred growing public anger after various accounts showed haphazard screening at Bangkok’s airports.

Thailand has reported 43 confirmed infections and one fatality linked to the virus.

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Jor12 | 07 March 2020 - 10:16:23

How do you clowns know that the persons seen eating out have not already spent 14 in self quarantine. As usual you don't. So if by asking where had they been, and they lie what on earth are you going to do then? Bit of common sense prevails clowns

Kurt | 07 March 2020 - 08:53:11

Return of 5000 undocumented thai from Korea? Red in BP that there are 209, 980 Thai working in Korea, of which 73% is undocumented, according Thai ministries.  A 'promising' return outlook.

Kurt | 07 March 2020 - 06:14:26

@Jor, yeah, pretty simple unrealistic.  According BP, in central/north Thailand already photos viral of returned Thai from Korea, sitting in restaurants ( not following self quarantine rules). Shopping centres/restaurants had to close for sterilising.

Kurt | 07 March 2020 - 05:54:20

When is Thailand coming with a updated COVID-19 country list? Belgium and Netherlands have a explosive rise in patients. ( more than Thailand) In just one week more than 80 patients. Some died already.

Rorri_2 | 07 March 2020 - 05:40:23

Jor12..mate, "just at a rough guess, they would be asked where they had been," best laugh of the day, estimated 100,000 returning and ALL will give an honest reply...mate, I don't know where you live but it must be isolated or you are on mind altering drugs. Already 2 have not self isolated... read the news.

Jor12 | 06 March 2020 - 12:29:06

r...just at a rough guess, they would be asked where they had been?  Pretty simple really.

Kurt | 06 March 2020 - 08:20:29

Foreign tourists should realise that while flying to Thailand, at arrival they can be surprised by a new flip-flop quarantine rule. A 14 day holiday in army camp here or there before set free to explore the rest of Thailand, and probably than bump into a returned infected thai illegal worker from S-Korea, here or there.

Rorri_2 | 05 March 2020 - 10:52:32

"Premier Prayut Chan-o-Cha said yesterday the workers who came from South Korea’s two hardest-hit areas - Daegu and neighbouring North Gyeongsang province - would be subjected to quarantine," and how will they know where they come from?

Kurt | 05 March 2020 - 09:31:29

Is it not time to replace Flip-Flop Minister Anutin?  He is not exactly representing Thailand in a good way inside or to the outside world during these times. Just create confusion., and makes Thailand medical wise less serious taken.

Fascinated | 05 March 2020 - 09:18:01

Parties and breweries spring to mind with this chap. 

goldwing | 05 March 2020 - 08:43:13

No one will come to Thailand on holiday to spend 14 days in quarantine, if there is a risk then ban flights from those 11 countries, but that would affect tourism that is more important than peoples health, Safety of tourists has been been a great concern here as can be seen from the number of deaths and injuries, money is much more important

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