Thailand says visitors from virus-risk zones must self-quarantine

Health officials check tourists’ temperatures as they arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok. (AP pic)

BANGKOK: Thailand said visitors from some countries and territories deemed high risk for novel coronavirus infection must self-quarantine.

People coming from China, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Iran and Italy must self-quarantine for 14 days, the government’s public relations department said on Twitter on Friday.

They have to isolate themselves at their homes or hotel rooms, and report to the authorities daily or be checked on by officials.

People who breach the quarantine will face a 20,000 baht fine, the department also said.

Separately, the Health Ministry said people coming from Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Netherlands and the US are recommended – rather than required – to quarantine themselves for 14 days.

Until the latest tweets, conflicting messages had led to confusion over the rules being imposed by Thailand, which attracted about 40 million tourists in 2019.

Economic damage

Cathay Pacific said in an advisory that travellers from China, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Iran and Italy “are allowed to enter” Thailand but have to self-quarantine at their hotel or residence.

The tourism-reliant Thai economy is reeling from the travel curbs sparked by the disease known as Covid-19, which globally has infected almost 100,000 people and killed over 3,000.

Visitors from China, the epicentre of the outbreak, have slumped but are usually the biggest source of tourism receipts.

Economic growth in January through March is set to be “bad,” Kobsak Pootrakool, head of the Council of Economic Ministers, said in a briefing in Bangkok on Friday.

The tourism slump could hurt expansion in the second quarter too, he said.

The government plans stimulus measures worth more than 100 billion baht to shore up Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy amid the coronavirus crisis. The package includes cash handouts to millions of people on low incomes.

Thailand reported one new case of infection Friday, taking its total to 48.

There’s been one fatality in the kingdom, 16 people are hospitalised and the rest have been discharged.