6 June 2024

Thailand’s CCSA has offered a public apology, especially to the people of Bangkok and Rayong, over the mishandling of foreign VIP arrivals, and has promised to review all privileges extended to foreign diplomatic and military missions and their families, particularly the exemption from 14-day quarantine for short-term visits.

“I am sorry that our officials lowered their guard. We have discussed improvements.  We apologize for the incidents and we promise to close the loopholes.  We thought they (the Egyptian military delegation) would land at Suvarnabhumi airport, but they landed in U-tapao instead, for which we had not planned,” said CCSA spokesman Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin.

He said that the Egyptians also refused to be tested for COVID-19 during their stay at a hotel in Rayong, requiring Thai officials to seek intervention by the Egyptian Embassy.  Several of them also left their hotel to go shopping and sightseeing, causing concern among the town’s residents, once it was discovered, post departure, that one of the members of the delegation was infected.

The Egyptians visited Leamthong and Central malls at the same time as 394 Thais at Leamthong and 1,488 at Central, according to the check-in records. Dr. Taweesin said that officials from the Disease Control Department have been trying to trace these people for testing, adding that, if anyone is in doubt, they can ask for free tests.

Regarding the visit of the Egyptian delegation, he said that the request was made through the Thai embassy in Egypt and the Thai Foreign Ministry, and permission was granted by the Royal Thai Air Force to land at U-tapao airport, in the compound of the Sattahip naval base.

According to Regulation 5 under the 7th Emergency Decree, Dr. Taweesin said there is no requirement for the aircraft’s crew to be subjected to COVID-19 tests, but it was reported that they had already been tested in their home country.

In the incident involving the family of a Sudanese diplomat, who stayed at a Sukhumvit condominium after their arrival in Bangkok, a young girl in the family tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival, which was confirmed by a second test at a private hospital.  She was immediately admitted for treatment and later moved to a state hospital.  The other four family members tested negative, but they are to be tested again.

The incidents have drawn heavy criticism from the public over what is being seen as lax enforcement of regulations regarding VIPs, and Dr. Taweesin admitted that the CCSA was accountable.

He disclosed that eight Egyptian Air Force flights, which were granted permission to land in Thailand, have now been cancelled, and short visits by diplomats and businessmen are suspended.

Meanwhile, seven new COVID-19 cases have been recorded today, all of them are returnees from abroad and currently in state quarantine.