Thais returning from South Korea ignoring quarantine “recommendation”

PHOTO: An immigration officer signals for a visitor to stop for a check at Don Mueang airport in Bangkok - Apichart Jinakul, Bangkok Post

Hundred, perhaps thousands of Thai workers returned from South Korea to their hometowns this week, facing a “recommendation” from the Ministry of Public Health to self-quarantine for 14 days, due to fears over the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. But some are stirring panic by ignoring the rule. They are travelling in public, even posting photos on Facebook, causing panic amongst shoppers, retailers and restaurateurs wherever they go.

Thailand considers South Korea one of the high-risk countries for the new coronavirus, but there remains confusion over the actual rules regarding self-quarantine. Ministry spokesman Rungrueng Kiphati told reporters on Thursday that people arriving from six specific destinations, namely China, Hong Kong, Macao, Italy, and Iran, would be fined 20,000 baht if they did not self-quarantine for 14 days at home or in a hotel room, “where they have to report themselves to the authorities every day or officials will come to check on them.” But on Friday, other ministry officials took a softer line.

“For now, we are recommending people to exercise home quarantine. But if you don’t follow that, then we will use the law to take you to government quarantine centres.”

On Friday, the Mall Bangkae department store in Bangkok closed for two days of cleaning and sterilising, after being visited by a worker who had recently returned from South Korea. The mall took the precaution after it was brought to management’s attention, and has also urged those who worked in the shops the woman visited to quarantine themselves at home for 14 days.

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Thais returning from South Korea ignoring quarantine "recommendation" | News by Thaiger

Another worker apologised after an alarm was raised in Chiang Mai. She posted on Facebook a photo of herself in a restaurant after returning from South Korea. She was later picked up at home and taken to 14 days of quarantine in Chiang Mai.

In Northeastern Thailand, a woman posted that she was bored staying at home and had visited shops and restaurants in Uthai Thani province, drawing netizens’ attention and comments. She was asked to test for coronavirus infection at a local hospital . Preliminary results showed she was not infected.

There has also been a case of a worker visiting Phi Phi Islands in Phuket province. The woman clarified on her Facebook page that she had already been tested and found to be free from the coronavirus.

SOURCES: Chiang Rai Times | The Nation

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