23 May 2024

A taxi driver has become Thailand’s first confirmed case of novel coronavirus infection through human-to-human transmission, Public Heath Permanent Secretary Dr. Sukhum Kanchanapimai told a news conference this afternoon (Friday).

He said that there are five new confirmed cases of infection, including four Chinese tourists and the Thai taxi driver, bringing the total number of cases in Thailand to 19.

The four Chinese tourists came from Hupei province, the capital of which is Wuhan, the epicentre of outbreak, but the Thai taxi driver has never visited China, said Dr. Sukhum.

Of the 19 confirmed cases, seven have been discharged and have returned to China, while the remaining 12, including the Thai cabbie, are in hospital.

Meanwhile, government spokeswoman Mrs. Narumon Pinyosinwat said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, at the cabinet meeting today, reminded Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul to consider all the implications on the Thai people, especially the tourism sector, if the visa on arrival for Chinese tourists is temporarily suspended as proposed.

Mr. Anutin said earlier he would seek cabinet approval for his proposal to suspend the facility to assist in the efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Thailand.

The Prime Minister, said Mrs Narumon, pointed out that the Chinese government has already banned all Chinese tour groups from leaving China and has sought cooperation from Chinese people by suspending their foreign trips, which resulted in a 50% drop in the number of Chinese leaving that country.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said today that the Chinese government has also given approval for Thailand to airlift its citizens out of Wuhan.

He said that a chartered aircraft will fly to Wuhan tomorrow morning to evacuate over 60 stranded Thais, who are mostly students.