Singapore Thai embassy clarifies Bangkok advisory: Healthy Singaporeans need not self-quarantine upon arrival in Thailand

Passengers wearing protective face masks at the arrival area of Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand, on Feb 23, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK - Healthy travellers arriving in Thailand from Singapore need not self-quarantine, the Thai embassy in Singapore clarified on Wednesday (March 4), after a health official in Bangkok advised people coming from countries deemed high risk for coronavirus infection to do so.

The Thai embassy in Singapore said the Thai government welcomes all nationalities to Thailand and that quarantine is not required if travellers are healthy.

"Arriving passengers from Singapore need not have to go for quarantine, if they are healthy, but do take note that they have to comply with the health screening procedure conducted by the Thai authorities upon arrival at the port of entry," said an embassy statement.

During a press conference on Wednesday morning, Public Health Ministry spokesman Taweesilp Wisanuyotin had said: "Those returning from countries where there is an outbreak, if you have a fever, coughing, runny nose, sore throat, and problems breathing, please contact medical institutes so then you can be treated or put in isolation…. For those with domicile in Thailand, please self-quarantine in your residences for 14 days and strictly follow the guidelines.

"Those without domicile in Thailand, please provide evidence of your accommodation to the disease control officials so (you) can be tracked."

Those who have to self-quarantine must refrain from leaving their residences, stay in separate rooms and keep a distance of at least 1m from others. They are also required to record their temperature and symptoms daily.

If they are found to have a high temperature, they will be moved to a medical facility for treatment.

Disease control officials will track the conditions of those under self-quarantine every day, said Mr Taweesilp. If they are found to be ill, they would have to inform officials within three hours.

Visitors who do not give a valid Thailand address for contact tracing will be deported to places where they came from, he added.

When pressed by reporters for further details on quarantine during the same press conference, he said: "There will need to be an announcement first. When there is an announcement on the high-risk countries, then the 14-day (self-quarantine) needs to be applied. People will need to do what we advise."

As of Wednesday evening, there was no quarantine announcement from the government.

Under Thai law, a breach of a mandatory self-quarantine order will result in a maximum of one year imprisonment and/or a fine of up to 100,000 baht (S$4,430). This law will take effect once a revision of high-risk countries and places is made and published in the royal gazette.

There has been uncertainty about Thailand's quarantine policy since Tuesday (March 3), when health minister Anutin Charnvirakul posted on Facebook a message and document declaring that people coming from nine virus-hit countries would need to quarantine themselves for 14 days.

The countries and territories listed were South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Germany, Japan, France, Singapore, Italy, and Iran.

However, the post was deleted hours later.

On Wednesday (March 4), the health minister evaded questions on this matter, according to local reports.

About one million Singaporeans visit Thailand each year.

Travel agents said Thailand is a popular destination for Singapore travellers on short breaks, and for company retreats and meetings. Thailand is also a key tourism market for Singapore.

Ms Alicia Seah, director of public relations and communications at Dynasty Travel, said: "Travel sentiments are already weak. If the advisory becomes compulsory and Thailand imposes a mandatory 14 day self quarantine on arrival, it will definitely further lower travel confidence."

Thailand has designated Covid-19 - the illness caused by the new coronavirus - a dangerous communicable disease .

It has 43 confirmed coronavirus cases and one death - a 35-year-old Thai male retail worker who also had dengue fever.

Also on Wednesday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told a press briefing that all travellers from the South Korean city of Daegu and the north Gyeongsang province will be quarantined in government facilities.

The country is bracing itself for an influx of returning Thais from South Korea, which has the highest number of coronavirus cases outside China - more than 5,300 coronavirus cases and 32 deaths.

There are more than 150,000 Thais working illegally in South Korea.

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