Thailand’s new infection rate falls below 100, as overseas returnees trigger alarm
Thailand’s new COVID-19 infection rate has fallen below 100 for the first time since March 22 as authorities today try frantically to locate a large group of Thais who returned from overseas on Friday and were allowed to go home without being subject to a mandatory quarantine.
Government figures report 2,067 confirmed COVID-19 infections to date, with 89 newly confirmed cases today. The number of recoveries has increased to 612 and 1,425 are being treated in hospital.
One more fatality was reported today, bringing the country’s death toll so far to 20. The new fatality was a 72-year old man who had diabetes.
COVID-19 has now spread to 64 out of Thailand’s 77 provinces.
Based on official data, the risk of infection in Bangkok and in the rest of the country is now at a similar level, and it is hoped that the newly imposed nationwide night time curfew will further retard the infection rate.
Dr. Thaveesilp Wissanuyothin, however, told a news conference today that infections among those returning from abroad are increasing, as he reminded them to enter a 14-day strict self-quarantine period and social distancing.
After 152 Thais, returning from abroad on Friday evening were allowed to return home for self-quarantine, he said that all of them are required to report to the emergency centre at the airport, or to Damrongtham centres around the country, by 6pm today or face legal action under the terms of the Emergency Decree.
Several of them, mostly returning from the United States, refused to be quarantined at Sattahip Naval Base, or in designated hotels in Bangkok, claiming that they were not told in advance about that requirement. The Foreign Ministry, however, has confirmed that all had been informed when they registered to return home at Thai diplomatic missions in the US.
Only six of the 158 returnees agreed to enter quarantine at a state facility.
Dr. Thaveesilp also warned families of the returnees to self-quarantine and monitor their health, because the US is a high risk country where COVID-19 is spreading quickly.
“It is your duty and that of your families. We don’t want to see more deaths, even though you may insist that you are strong. Every one of you (the returnees) must go through state quarantine process,” he said.