Thai government blames Egyptian embassy for Covid-19 positive air crew mess

PHOTO: Khaosod English

The Thai government is blaming the Egyptian embassy for lobbying for the 31 military personnel visiting Rayong province to avoid the 14 day mandatory quarantine. Some 1,889 members of the Rayong community, who visited the same malls in Rayong City (named as the Laem Thong Department Store) at the same time as the Egyptian crew member, are now facing a 14 day home quarantine whilst the government sorts out the mess.

Dr. Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesperson for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, referred to the 31 Egyptian military personnel, who had a quick stop-over in the eastern province of Rayong on their way to China. One air-crew was found to have been infected with Covid-19 after the plane and the rest of the crew had left Thailand.

Dr. Taweesilp named and blamed the Thai Egyptian embassy for arranging hotel accommodation for the Egyptian delegation instead of sending the visitors to a state quarantine facility. The hotel they were staying at has been named as the D Varee Diva Central Rayong Hotel.

“Regulations require the quarantine during their stay but the embassy contacted the hotel directly. Health and security teams learned later about the incident and did their best to cope.”

As a result, 127 schools announced they are closing “indefinitely” following the incident.

And in Bangkok, the Sai Nam Pueng School on Soi Sukhumvit 22 also announced that it would close until Friday after a 9 year old daughter of a Sudanese diplomat was found to have contracted Covid-19, even though her family lived 4 blocks away on Soi Sukhumvit 26.

Back to the background of the Egyptian Air Force officer incident….

The flight, carrying the Egyptian military officers, arrived on 2 separate military flights at U-Tapao airport in Rayong at 7pm on Wednesday, July 8. They reached the hotel in Rayong, at 11pm. The next day they departed from U-Tapao airport at 5.30am bound for Chengdu in China. They returned to U-Tapao airport again at 11.30pm on the same day. They then headed back to the same Rayong hotel 2am on July 10, according to Bangkok Post.

At 11am on July 10, 27 of the 31 visitors walked to Laem Tong shopping centre and stayed there until 3pm. 4 others caught taxis to the Central Plaza Rayong and stayed there from 2pm for 4 hours.

There had been ‘resistance’ to taking Covid-19 tests. But, upon learning about the push-back from the flight crew members about the tests, Thai officials eventually convinced the Egyptian crew to take swab tests. They “finally cooperated” after intervention from the Egyptian embassy in Thailand. The flight then left to return to Egypt at 11.30am on July 11.

“CCTV showed that three of the visitors wore face masks. The others had face masks but did not wear them. The infected person wore his face mask while in public,”
The CCSA says that the crew members did not go out at night.

9 people are reported to be considered at “high risk” of having contracted Covid-19 from the infected Egyptian military officer. That includes the van drivers at U-Tapao airport who transported members of the delegation, and 7 employees at the hotel in Rayong, including 2 managers, 1 salesperson and 4 maids.

The Thaic Chana check-in application indicates that 394 people visited the Laem Tong shopping centre and another 1,488 people were at Central Plaza Rayong at the same time the Egyptian visitors were there.

Dr. Taweesilp says that the CCSA is taking responsibility for the incident and it “would improve its operations”. He noted that the CCSA had expected the visitors to land at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, not U-Tapao in Rayong (near Pattaya).

The CCSA has now cancelled 8 other Egyptian air force flights on July 17-20 and July 25-29.

“We are truly sorry for the incident in Rayong, where about 1,000 people are now at risk and more than 10 schools must be closed.”

As a result, the Thai government is temporarily suspending the entry of all foreign diplomats and special business representatives. Dr. Taweesilp announced the suspension of arrivals by privileged foreigners and business reps under special arrangements, and foreign diplomats and their families.

He said it would remain in force while the CCSA plugged loopholes in its disease control measures.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

Covid-19 NewsThailand News

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