Thai AirAsia and Thai Lion Air will resume domestic flights on Friday, May 1, after the airlines suspended operations due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Thai Lion Air will resume flights for several destinations, including Chiang Mai, Ubon Ratchathani, Khon Kaen, Surat Thani, Hat Yai, and Nakhon Si Thammarat. Passengers will be required to wear face masks while on board the plane, and no drinks or food will be served during flights. A ban on all international flights remains in place until Thursday, April 30. All state and military aircraft, emergency landings, humanitarian, medical, cargo, and repatriation flights will be exempt from the measure.
Separately, Army Chief Apirat Kongsompong has ordered for an increased security presence along the Thai-Malaysia border after 672 Thais entered Narathiwat province without undergoing health screening. The country has seen a growing number of illegal border crossings as Thai workers have opted to pay fines instead of filling in the necessary forms. Officials have also raised concerns that separatist groups could exploit the situation to enter the country.
A nationwide curfew from 22:00 to 04:00 (local time) remains in place until further notice. Only workers from essential services, such as healthcare workers, are exempt from the measures. Those in violation of the curfew may be fined THB 40,000 or jailed for two years. Several provinces, including Bangkok, have closed nonessential businesses until at least April 30. All passengers must also wear face masks on public transport. Authorities in the following areas have also announced that border closures will remain in place until April 30: Songkhla province, Koh Samui island, Pattaya municipality, and Phuket province (until April 26). Some exceptions to the travel ban will be made for people needing to travel for work in essential sectors, including transport, energy, finance, consumer products, and public health.
All visas for foreigners who have entered Thailand legally will be automatically extended until April 30. The extension is valid for all foreigners whose visas were due to expire between Thursday, March 26, and April 30. The government has also stated that if necessary, this measure will be extended on a month-by-month basis. Earlier, the government decreed migrant workers with expiring work permits would be permitted to stay in the country without having to apply for an extension until Thailand reopens its borders.
As of Wednesday, April 22, there are 2862 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Thailand, with 49 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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