Thailand’s health minister apologizes for outburst aimed at western tourists
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said today that he will ask western embassies to advise their citizens visiting Thailand to wear protective face masks in public places, and in crowds, for safety.
The minister, who is campaigning to get the public to wear face masks, offered an apology on his Facebook page today, after his outburst when some western tourists, he said, refused to accept the free face masks he and health officials were handing out at Siam Square on Thursday.
The minister reportedly lost his temper at, what he described as, the uncooperative attitude of the western tourists, which he thought was “uncaring”. He exclaimed to reporters that “these tourists should be kicked out of Thailand.”
He explained that Thailand is currently campaigning for people to wear face masks in public for theirs and others’ safety asking, rhetorically, how those tourists can be so certain that they are not infected with coronavirus, because they might have visited somewhere else before coming to Thailand.
“We don’t know which tourists have visited which countries before coming to Thailand, or whether they present a high-risk. Being cooperative by wearing masks is what we have come to expect, not being brushed off with a wave of their hand and a glare, which the public health officials and I have experienced,” said Mr. Anutin.