On Sunday, April 5, authorities in Songkhla province announced that, effective 23:59 (local time) on Sunday, entry into and exit from the province would be banned amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The province's borders will remain closed until Thursday, April 30. A handful of 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.
Provincial officials have begun to use sports stadiums, including the Pru Kangkao stadium, as temporary quarantine facilities for workers returning home from abroad and elsewhere in the country.
Songkhla has been one of the Thailand's most severely hit provinces, confirming 37 cases on Monday, April 6.
On April 6, the mayor of Koh Samui island (Thailand's second-largest island) announced a ban on all travel to the island until Thursday, April 30, to prevent further transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). The entry ban will prohibit people from visiting Koh Samui with the exception of those with a health certificate issued by a public hospital in the previous 72 hours before entering the island, which confirms that they do not have the virus. Further exceptions to the ban will include individuals working in essential sectors, such as public health, energy, finance, consumer products, and postal services. Transport by ferry will be the only mode of transportation during the entry ban as the Koh Samui airport will be closed for the remainder of the month on Tuesday, April 7.
Other measures to combat COVID-19 remain in place as of Monday. On Friday, April 3, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) announced a temporary ban on all incoming passenger flights from 00:01 (local time) on Saturday, April 4, until 23:59 on Monday, April 6, to curb the spread of the virus. Individuals arriving on flights that took off before the order came into effect are subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon their arrival in Thailand. Exceptions are being made for state, military, and cargo aircraft, humanitarian aid, medical, repatriation, and relief flights, and emergency and technical landings; an extension of the ban is possible. An earlier ban on the entry of foreign non-resident nationals into Thailand remains in place.
This decision came after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha asked all Thai citizens seeking to return home from abroad to delay their travel until after Wednesday, April 15. Additionally, an indefinite nationwide curfew has come into effect on April 3. As such, all individuals are prohibited from leaving their residence between 22:00 and 04:00. Transport of goods, fuel, medicines, and medical supplies, and the movement of patients and medical personnel are exempt from the ban.
As of April 6, there have been 2200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Thailand, including 26 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the coming days and weeks.
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 quarantine 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 COVID-19 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.