BANGKOK • Thailand is temporarily halting exemptions from a 14-day quarantine given to some groups of foreigners, following two separate incidents of possible Covid-19 exposure to the community.
Contact tracing teams are tracking steps of an Egyptian air force member and a daughter of a Sudanese diplomat; both tested positive for the virus. They entered Thailand but were exempted from a mandatory quarantine at state facilities. The Egyptian was on a short visit and has since left the country, while the nine-year-old girl is still in Thailand.
Thailand has reported 3,227 coronavirus cases, including 58 fatalities (at press time). Over the past 50 days, no new cases from local transmission have been detected, but the recent incidents have put health authorities and the public on alert.
“It shouldn’t have happened,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o- cha said at a briefing yesterday. “It’s an unforeseen event. It’s affected the confidence and safety of the people. I’m worried that some of us are not taking control measures seriously enough.”
Hotel workers and taxi drivers who came into contact with the Egyptian, are now in quarantine, said Taweesilp Witsanuyotin, a spokesman for the Covid-19 centre. Several schools in Rayong Province, where the air force staffer stayed, were shuttered yesterday. Moreover, at least 1,000 people who were at a local mall at the same time he visited will be notified via a contact-tracing application.
“We have to rethink measures for foreigners who are allowed to enter Thailand, with no exceptions for military or diplomats,” said Natthapol Nakpanich, deputy army chief.
Permits for eight flights for the Egyptian air force in July will be revoked, while new measures are being considered for foreign diplomats and their families.
Thailand’s borders remain closed for most foreigners. Exceptions are given to some people on business trips, those with work permits and people seeking medical treatment.
Reliant on tourism and exports, Thailand faces one of Asia’s worst economic contractions this year, with the central bank predicts GDP will shrink by a record 8.1%. — Bloomberg