Prayut orders halt to arrivals from overseas to curb virus spread

The government is focusing its attempts to curb the spread of the coronavirus on Thais and foreigners entering Thailand from overseas as the 104 new infection cases were reported today with three deaths.

The Foreign Ministry has been assigned to work out measures to restrict their arrivals for the next two weeks, according to Dr. Thaveesilp Wissanuyothin, spokesman of the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

Thaveesilp said Thais who returned from overseas and foreign visitors are partly responsible for the continuing rise in the number of new infections.

“Though the number of travelers from overseas has significantly declined, the prime minister believes more need to be done to stem overseas arrivals in order to further flatten the curve,” said Thaveesilp.

He said the prime minister wants to see stringent measures imposed on overseas arrivals for the period between April 2-15.  The Foreign Ministry has been tasked to find out ways to implement the directive from the prime minister.

When asked whether the government is moving toward imposing curfew to enforce its “stay at home” measure, Thaveesilp said “just wait for what the prime minister will have to say today.”

In his daily update of the COVID-19 situation, the spokesman said 104 new infections were reported today with 3 deaths, bringing the overall number of infections to 1,875.

He said four of the six Thais who recently returned from Italy were tested positive for the coronavirus with another 50 people who have come into contact with them being quarantined.

As many as 47 of the 132 Thai Muslims in southern Thailand who returned from a religious function outside Kuala Lumpur last month were tested positive. Four of them have died. More than 1,000 people subsequently had to be quarantined as a resulted.

Four executives of the CP Group returned recently from negotiating the Tesco deal and one of them died after being infected with the virus.

Thaveesilp said these figures only reinforced concerns that the spread of the deadly virus cannot possibly be curbed if people from overseas continue to be allowed in without more stringent screening.

He said the prime minister had told the Foreign Ministry to further tighten restrictions on Thais planning to return from abroad, by asking them to postpone their trips until after April 15.  This new measure, he said,  applies to all Thai citizens abroad, including American Field Service exchange programme students who are living in the United States with their host families, with the exception for those already issued with permits to return to Thailand.

Any Thais who may have questions about this new measure can seek more information from Thai embassies or consular offices in their respective countries.

Restrictions were previously imposed for Thai returnees from abroad as well as foreigners.  These include the requirement for all Thais to get a “fit-to fly” doctor’s certificate and mandatory self-quarantine for 14 days after their arrivals.  Foreign arrivals are required to also produce US$100,000 health insurance and mandatory quarantine at state-designated hotels for 14 days.

Thaveesilp also reported results of a state online opinion survey conducted during March 24-25 with 150,000  people in 71 provinces regarding how they protect themselves in wake of the virus pandemic.  The survey shows that 94 percent of the respondents said they wear face masks every time they are outdoor; 90 percent said they often wash their hands with soap and 64 percent said they observe social distancing.

He said that the military, which is responsible for monitoring daily commuting, reported that commuting in the city on weekdays has dropped only 20 percent. “The result doesn’t sound very good,” he said.

He pleaded with employers to seriously comply with the work from home directive to reduce the need for their employees to travel.


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