Non-Thai nationals arriving from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal are now included in an entry ban aimed at preventing the spread of the so-called Indian variant of Covid-19. The ban was first introduced for arrivals from India late last month, amid the escalating crisis in that country. It has now been extended to 3 other South Asian nations as the government tries to guard against importing the highly contagious B.1.617.1 variant.
The ban applies to all non-Thais who depart from or transit through those countries. Tanee Sangrat from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration requested an extension to the ban after a Thai woman who arrived from Pakistan was found to be infected with the variant while in quarantine.
“The CCSA has confirmed reports that 1 traveller from Pakistan into Thailand has been infected by the Covid-19 variant first detected in India. The CCSA meeting therefore requested the MFA to temporarily suspend the issuance of COEs to all foreigners travelling from countries which have widespread transmission of the said variant. In response to this, the MFA will comply with the CCSA’s recommendations and temporarily suspend the issuance of COEs to all foreign nationals travelling from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal into Thailand.”
Tanee adds that the ban does not apply to Thai nationals, who can still return from any of the aforementioned countries.
“Thai nationals, diplomats on mission in Thailand and their families, and permanent residents travelling from these countries are still able to return to Thailand if they so wish.”
A Thai woman who arrived back in the Kingdom from Pakistan on April 24 was found to be infected with the highly contagious strain, as was 1 of her young sons travelling with her. Another 2 sons tested negative. All 4 were in state quarantine when tested.
Further tests at Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital confirmed the strain was B.1.617.1, with Thiravat Hemachudha from Chulalongkorn University urging people to be vigilant. He says B.1.617.1 is concerning, pointing out that 4 people in Israel, all of whom have been fully inoculated with the Pfizer vaccine, have tested positive for the variant.
“Thailand must be vigilant even if we can achieve our vaccination target by year-end. If there is a mutated version that can evade vaccines, the problem will remain.”
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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