Thailand Finds More Virus Infections Among Illegal Entrants

Thailand reported six new coronavirus cases among people who illegally entered the country from neighboring Myanmar, prompting authorities to warn of criminal charges against anyone sneaking into the Southeast Asian nation and skipping the mandatory quarantine.

The new infections reported late Wednesday brought local cases to 10 in the past week alone, and Thailand’s total to 4,032, official data showed. The new cases were all found in Thai women who had ties to the same entertainment venue in Myanmar as the four previously confirmed patients, the health ministry said in a statement.

The patients entered the country illegally and traveled to various locations in Thailand before testing positive for Covid-19, the ministry said, adding they were currently in quarantine and receiving treatment. Authorities are tracing people who were in contact with the patients to prevent the virus from spreading further, according to Sopon Iamsirithaworn, director of general communicable diseases at the ministry.

The infection was imported and there has not been any local transmissions of the virus, the ministry said. Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul earlier asked governors of two northern provinces to prosecute four Thais who entered the country without permit and skipping the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

The ten cases have been reported from Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phayao, Phichit, Ratchaburi provinces and Bangkok. Thailand, the first country outside China to report the deadly virus, has kept the outbreak under control with strict border closures and quarantine requirements for those arriving from overseas under various exemptions.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha’s government has extended a state of nationwide emergency through Jan. 15 and deferred a proposal to shorten quarantine period for foreign tourists to prevent a resurgence in virus during the peak holiday season. The national Covid-19 center said it had no plan to ban travel to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces.

Thailand received more than 1,000 foreign tourists in October, the first set of visitors in six months after authorities unveiled a special long-stay tourist to revive the battered industry. A revival in tourism, which netted more than $60 billion in revenue from about 40 million visitors in 2019, is seen as key to returning the nation’s economy to the pre-pandemic levels.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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