Thailand has not issued a travel ban on any country including the Philippines as per the latest travel advisory and press releases from the Royal Thai Government House, Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). However, MOPH asks the cooperation from people who return from affected areas to self-quarantine themselves for a total of 14 days.
The Ministry of Public Health specifically highlighted China, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Italy and Iran on its website as affected countries. It also advised “Thai people who arrive from affected areas and develop symptoms including coughing, sneezing, panting or runny nose within 14 days of return to seek medical care at the hospital immediately and inform the health care provider regarding the history of recent travel to China”. The Philippines has three confirmed cases of coronavirus or COVID-19 along with 53 other countries (as of March 1).
In its latest press release, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also explained that “The Royal Thai Government has adhered to and has abided by the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the Coronavirus outbreak. WHO has never issued a travel ban on any country or region because it has deemed that such action would not be helpful and would not have prevented the spread of the virus”.
Below are the latest press releases regarding COVID-19 published on the Royal Thai Government House, Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Foreign Affairs websites.
Level 3: Avoid Unnecessary Travel to Areas with Ongoing Local Transmission
The National Communicable Diseases Committee announced COVID-19 to be the 14th dangerous disease and it will be shown in the Royal Thai Government Gazette.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak which was first reported in Wuhan, China spread across the regions of China. Currently, people are recommended to avoid visiting mainland China in accordance with China’s announcement on 24 January 2020 halting all departing flights from Wuhan. The effective date of the announcement was extended to 31 March 2020.
The Ministry of Public Health, Thailand recommended Thai people who arrive from affected areas and develop symptoms including coughing, sneezing, panting or runny nose within 14 days of return to seek medical care at the hospital immediately and inform the health care provider regarding the history of recent travel to China and other countries on the list below.
Special announcement on COVID-19 as a dangerous infectious disease (effective March 1), published on February 29, 2020
COVID-19 was added as a “Dangerous communicable disease” under The Royal Thai Government Gazette. It has been enforced since March 1 (Sunday). The Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) asks the cooperation from people who return from affected areas to self-quarantine themselves for a total of 14 days if anyone has the symptoms and see a medical doctor immediately and provide your travel history to health care providers.
After the announcement comes into effect, measures will be issued for the use of power under the law in order to delay the current situation from escalating to the third phase of the spread of the disease as long as possible.
For the public concern about what to do after returning from affected areas, aside from self-quarantine people are also advised to avoid visiting public or crowded places, wear a mask when making contact with other people, not share personal stuff with others, frequently wash hands, eat cooked food, use a serving spoon, and keep the toilet, clothes and door knobs clean with soap or detergent.
If anyone meets the criteria of PUI, they can check their health condition and be diagnosed for COVID – 19 at their registered hospital (free of charge). If they do not meet the PUI criteria or there are no symptoms, we do not recommend you to request laboratory testing by yourself (but if you insist on a laboratory diagnosis, you need to shoulder the cost by yourself). However, if travelers who return from affected areas do not develop suspected symptoms and are negative for COVID-19 after a first diagnosis, they are recommended to implement the self-quarantine at home for 14 days.
Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha on “Plans and measures readily prepared against 3rd stage of Covid-19”
On February 24 following the weekly cabinet meeting at the Government House, Prime Minister and Defense Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha responded to question including “a concern on people’s entering into the country”, the prime minister said:
“With regards to a concern on people’s entering into the country, especially through natural border passages, without going through the health screening for Covid-19, the Prime Minister has assigned the Royal Thai Army to dispatch personnel to support the monitoring and screening operation. Plans and measures have also been readily prepared to cope with the 3rd stage of the Covid-19. Committee for Disease Control will meet to deliberate the Disease Control Act, as an effort for legal preparation, while the Ministry of Public Health are undertaking related tasks and measures, including R&D and product tests by the Food and Drug Administration. The Prime Minister emphasized that the Government has placed priority on Thai people’s health, and urged them not to panic, but to stay alert.”Prime Minister and Defense Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha
Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Press Release: Current situation regarding the novel Coronavirus 2019 outbreak
Currently, there has been much confusion and misperception regarding the novel Coronavirus outbreak. Some unfounded and unsubstantiated information propagated by various individuals has created many unfortunate incidents involving foreign nationals. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to offer the following points with a view to establishing better understanding about the overall situation:
- The Royal Thai Government has adhered to and has abided by the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the Coronavirus outbreak. WHO has never issued a travel ban on any country or region because it has deemed that such action would not be helpful and would not have prevented the spread of the virus.
- Thailand has been named as one of the top ten countries with the best health security. Therefore, the country is well equipped to handle this latest Coronavirus infection as we have successfully done during the outbreaks of SARS and MERS.
- The Thai Government has been active in the international networks of infectious diseases in which countries share their experience and best practices on this human health issue. Thailand is in the forefront of, and plays an integral part in, the international efforts advocated to establish the most effective preventive and treatment measures to the problems.
- Thailand has an excellent track record regarding our effectiveness and efficiency in the previous rounds of infectious disease outbreaks. This has not changed with the Coronavirus.
- Thailand is fully prepared to stand together with our neighbours and the international community to fight the spread of the Coronavirus, not only by providing moral support but also sharing our best practices on this matter so that every nation is better equipped for future outbreaks.
- The Government would like to urge the Thai people to remain mindful and vigilant in the face of the outbreak, and always keep an open mind. No one people, nor one country, can stand alone. We all share the same fate, and we all are in it together. To successfully curb the spread of the 2019 novel Coronavirus, every country needs to actively cooperate and work side-by-side. The Thai people and Government stand by the affected countries in ASEAN, ASEAN+3, and the international community. We also wish those infected a speedy recovery. We thank all foreigners who continue to visit Thailand which shows their confidence in our measures in tackling the 2019 Coronavirus.
Photo: Khaosod English