BANGKOK: Police and soldiers wearing protective masks set up hundreds of checkpoints across Thailand on Friday (Apr 3) night to enforce an indefinite nationwide curfew, banning most people from outside in a bid to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.
Across the normally bustling capital of Bangkok, people rushed in the evening to get home before the curfew took effect on Friday night at 10pm and running until 4am the next day.
"I think the curfew is good because it will limit the time and number of people who travel every day," said Wiranyupha Rotthongsen, a 29-year-old salesperson who was waiting near the city's Victory Monument for a bus to get home.
"On the other hand, it might put me at risk of missing the bus, or I might have to wait longer, so I need to have better planning with time,” she said.
The curfew includes exceptions for people transporting medical supplies and health workers travelling to and from work.
Authorities said police, army and other security forces would set up 421 checkpoints across the country to enforce it.
READ: Thailand reports 103 new coronavirus infections and 4 more deaths; total cases at nearly 2,000
Thailand was the first country outside China to report a case of the new coronavirus, which since emerging in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year has infected more than 1 million people worldwide and killed at least 50,000.
Since last month, the number of confirmed cases in Thailand has jumped from just a few dozen to nearly 2,000, prompting more strict social isolation measures by the government.
As of Friday, the official number of cases in Thailand was 1,978 with 19 fatalities.
Thailand will temporarily ban all passenger flights from landing in the country to curb the outbreak of the new coronavirus, the country's aviation agency said on Friday.
The ban on incoming flights will come into effect on Saturday morning and run until the end of Monday, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand said in an order published late on Friday.
Anyone arriving on a flight that took off before the order came into effect will need to be quarantined for 14 days upon arrival in Thailand, the order said.
It came just hours after a commotion at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport when more than 100 Thai nationals arrived on different flights on Friday, a Thai immigration officer told Reuters.
"A public health officer allowed them to quarantine themselves at home. There was a commotion because they said they weren't aware they had to be put in a state quarantine," the officer said.
Since Mar 1, there has been a rising number of people who were infected abroad before returning home. The authorities have put nearly 2,000 people who came into contact with them in quarantine.
Thailand has six international airports, including in the capital Bangkok, which is under a curfew from Friday, and the popular tourist island Phuket, which was planning to shut its airport from Apr 10 to Apr 30.