BANGKOK: Thailand's health ministry has advised the public to avoid unnecessary trips to nine countries and territories affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
"Currently, we advise you to avoid travelling to mainland China - following an announcement by the People's Republic of China to suspend flights in and out of Wuhan City from Jan 24, 2020 and to extend the duration to Mar 31, 2020 - and to postpone unnecessary trips to areas with ongoing outbreak," the ministry said in an announcement on its website.
It listed nine destinations described as "areas with ongoing outbreak" and "areas where crowded places should be avoided".
- The People's Republic of China
- Hong Kong
- Some areas in South Korea, namely Daegu, North Gyeongsang, Gyeonggi, South Gyeongsang, Busan and Seoul
- Some areas in Japan, namely Hokkaido, Tokyo, Aichi, Wakayama, Kanagawa, Chiba, Okinawa, Kyoto and Osaka.
On Wednesday (Feb 26), the health ministry imposed travel restrictions on its employees, prohibiting them from visiting destinations affected by COVID-19 unless necessary.
Health personnel who need to visit these destinations are required to quarantine themselves for 14 days upon returning to Thailand. They are also required to wear face masks, use hand sanitiser and undergo daily examination.
Thailand reported another three cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 40.
The three new cases came from one Thai family, including a 65-year-old Thai man and his wife. Both had recently returned from Hokkaido in Japan.
According to the health ministry, they were infected abroad and spread the virus to their eight-year-old grandchild after returning home.
Health officials emphasised that there is no super spreader in Thailand and that more than half of the confirmed patients were infected overseas.
Of the 40 COVID-19 patients in Thailand, 26 were infected abroad and 14 contracted the virus in Thailand through close contact with cases infected overseas.
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"If you've just returned from at-risk destinations such as China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, Japan, Singapore and South Korea, we are not using any legal measure just yet but would like to ask you to take care of yourself at home for two weeks and your family members to be cautious," said Dr Sukhum Kanchanapimai, permanent secretary of the Public Health Ministry.