Thailand to put visitors from virus-hit nations under intensified surveillance

An airport official speaks to tourists at the Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok, Thailand. (AP pic)

BANGKOK: Thailand said it will classify all travellers into three groups under intensified surveillance for the new coronavirus as officials try to prevent a wider outbreak in the tourism-reliant nation.

People coming from China, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Iran and Italy will be subject to mandatory 14-day self-quarantine, the Tourism Authority of Thailand said in a statement.

They must apply for visas and present health forms at check-in certifying they are at no risk of developing the disease known as Covid-19, or they will be denied boarding.

These six territories are currently classified as danger zones for the virus but the list could change. For instance, officials have said China could be removed after a drop in infections there.

Arrivals from another group of 11 countries with ongoing local transmission have to report symptoms to officials for at least 14 days as well as the places they visit.

The nations are Japan, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the UK and the US.

Remaining visitors will be subject to usual airport checks but are advised to take precautions such as avoiding crowds and wearing masks.

The guidance issued Saturday followed a series of government flip-flops that stoked confusion about the exact restrictions being imposed by Thailand, which has so far reported only 82 confirmed infections.

Tourism accounts for about a fifth of the Thai economy but has collapsed as travel comes to a standstill to fight the spread of the virus, raising the risk of recession.