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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Handful of Thais catch last flight back to Thailand from Singapore

Jack Burton

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PHOTO: Business Insider

Flights are thin on the ground now and very few regional carriers are still in the air. Singapore Airlines Flight 972 was the last scheduled service to Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. Passengers, only a few dozen, mostly Thais fleeing back home to ride out the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, flew out of Singapore’s Changi Airport yesterday.

Airlines worldwide are cutting flights and grounding planes due to the global outbreak, which at 11:30am (Thai time today) had infected more than 664,000 and killed more than 30,000 people. Thailand has reported 6 deaths to date, Singapore 2.

The Thai passengers’ desperation was evident. One 66 year old woman, who had been in Singapore taking care of her niece, told reporters: “If I die, I want to die in my country.”

Thailand declared a nationwide state of emergency on Thursday banning all foreigners from entering the Kingdom, and placed complicated requirements for Thais to have a health certificate, not older than 72 hours, and proof of residence before being declared ‘fit to fly’..

Singapore’s Changi Airport was reported to be almost empty yesterday with only one check-in counter open. Nearly all passengers wore facemasks, and many wore gloves.

One passenger said she was afraid if she didn’t get back to Thailand she might be stranded. 33 year old Ammara Viparsinon said she was shocked at the ticket price of 600 Singapore dollars (about 13,600 baht), about double what a flight would normally would cost. But she felt there was no choice, as any other route would involve long connections and layovers, and be even more expensive.

“The risk is too high, so I’d rather take this last direct flight.”

SOURCE: Reuters

 

 

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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