Coronavirus UPDATE – over 100,000 Chinese are still in Thailand

PHOTO: Commuters continue to move around wearing cheap, flimsy, and largely useless, paper face-masks -Thai PBS World

This morning there remain 25 confirmed coronavirus cases in Thailand. The death toll has now reached 724 with a total of 34,878 confirmed cases in the past six weeks. Over 2,000 have now fully recovered.

Meanwhile, around Thailand, many Chinese tourists and expats continue to circulate after being in the Kingdom for more than 2-3 weeks. Around 100,000 Chinese tourists and expats are currently in Thailand. This includes 2,038 who arrived on flights from the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei province, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak. A further 91,688 tourists are from Guangzhou, in southern China.

There hasn’t been any new confirmed cases in Thailand for three days but some of the earlier identified patients have now been released from hospital. No coronavirus cases have died in Thailand.

Immigration officials report that 1,004,067 Chinese passengers arrived in Thailand between January 1 – February 6. Of those, 889,567 have already returned home. In the same five or so weeks, there were 23,933 arrivals from Wuhan. 21,895 of these have now returned. Of the 103,944 passenger from Guangzhou, 91,688 have departed Thailand.

Pol Lt-Gen Sompong Chingduang, commissioner of the Immigration Bureau, maintains that tourists from Wuhan and Guangzhou were a focus of stringent health screening when they arrived in Thailand, as well as random follow-up checks to make sure they have not developed symptoms. Only one visitor was isolated as a result of the checks and remains under observation awaiting results of lab tests.

The immigration Commissioner says that most of the Chinese visitors still in Thailand arrived before outbreak became a public health problem in Wuhan.

“Those who cannot return to China, due to travel restrictions, have asked to extend their visas and the Immigration Bureau has arranged for medical personnel to carry out health checks, so they can isolate and treat anyone found to have fever.”

Read about the Thai Health Minister’s ‘farang’ outburst yesterday HERE, and his later ‘apology’ HERE.

Earlier, the embattled health minister Anutin Charnvirakul said that imposing a travel ban on Chinese citizens won’t help the government’s fight against coronavirus (2019nCo)v epidemic.

Speaking at a news conference, Anutin said the infection is being found even in countries and territories that have restricted or closed their borders to Chinese travellers. Instead of a travel ban, he says, the government will focus on increased screening and medical treatment, and a decision not to impose a travel ban will have “a positive result” on Thai-Chinese relations in the future.

His announcement is a U-turn from his previous stance, proposing a suspension of visas-on-arrival for Chinese tourists, a proposal that was rejected by the Cabinet. About 10.9 million Chinese nationals visited Thailand in 2019, the largest chunk of tourism revenues for the Kingdom. Tourism provides around 18% of Thailand’s total GDP.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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