Thailand halts inbound flights after Egyptian breaks quarantine

This article is more than 12 months old

BANGKOK : Thailand suspended all inbound flights yesterday after an Egyptian soldier skipped self-quarantine and went to a shopping mall before testing positive for Covid-19.

The country has not recorded a domestic case of the virus for 50 days.

It had been gingerly reopening its airspace, hoping to use the low virus rates to tease back visitors to an economy flatlined by the collapse of tourism.

But all inbound flights will be stopped after a group of Egyptian soldiers entered on July 10 via the military-controlled U-Tapao airport, in Rayong province, without any virus screening.

They were meant to self-quarantine at a hotel before flying out the next day but instead went to a nearby shopping mall.

One soldier in the group later tested positive for the disease.

Authorities are now scrambling to trace around 1,700 people at the mall and the surrounding area.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said he took "all responsibility" and issued a rare apology for undermining the public's "confidence and safety".

"It happened because people did not respect the rules," he said during a televised address.

Authorities are also trying to trace the movements of the daughter of Sudan's charge d'affaires who entered the country on July 10 and stayed in a busy Bangkok condo instead of an embassy residence.

The incidents drew widespread anger on social media, with the hashtag "damn the government, damn its supporters" trending on Twitter. Thailand has so far recorded 3,200 cases and 58 deaths.

Meanwhile,in the Philippines, police will carry out house-to-house searches for Covid-19 patients to prevent wider transmission.

Interior Minister Eduardo Ano yesterday urged the public to report cases in their neighbourhoods, warning that anyone infected who refused to cooperate faced jail. - AFP, REUTERS