Coronavirus: Thailand extends ban on passenger flights until end-April

Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport is seen almost empty on April 6, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Thailand has extended a ban on incoming passenger flights until the end of April in a bid to curb the coronavirus outbreak, the country's aviation body said on Wednesday (April 15).

The ban was first introduced on April 4, and the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand has already extended it once until April 18.

Thailand reported 30 new coronavirus cases and 2 deaths on Wednesday.

Of the new cases, 19 patients were linked to previous cases, and three had no links to old cases, said Mr Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government's Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

One of those infected was in state quarantine, and the cases of seven people who tested positive were being investigated.

Since the outbreak escalated in January, Thailand has reported a total of 2,643 cases and 43 deaths, while 1,497 patients have recovered and gone home.

Thailand's tourist industry, a major employer and foreign currency earner in the country, has been hit particularly hard.

Thailand's economy is expected to lose 1.3 trillion baht ($56.47 billion), almost all of it in the tourist sector, due to the initial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, though that figure will increase if the crisis lasts beyond the second quarter, according to an estimate from the Thai Bankers' Association.

Earlier this month, the country's Interior Ministry said Thailand will re-open borders in 21 provinces on Saturday to allow Thais in neighbouring countries to come home, after shutting down borders in late March.

Up to 100 people will be allowed to enter per one border checkpoint per day, and they will be subject to a 14-day state quarantine, the ministry has said.

Thailand shares borders with Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Malaysia.

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