The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) announced on Wednesday, April 15, that they will be extending the ban on all international flights until April 30 amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Chula Sukmanop, the director-general of CAAT, said that the ban would be extended from 00:01 (local time) on April 18 through to 23:59 April 30. All state and military aircraft, emergency landings, humanitarian, medical, cargo, and repatriation flights will be exempt from the measure.
Authorities in the following areas have also announced that border closers will remain in place until Thursday, 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. 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.
All visas for foreigners who have entered Thailand legally will be automatically extended until April 30 to avoid lines at government buildings. 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 15, there are 2613 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Thailand, with 41 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.