COVID-19 outbreak: Travellers from 4 countries must show medical certificate before boarding flights to Thailand

COVID-19 outbreak: Travellers from 4 countries must show medical certificate before boarding flights to Thailand

Incoming passengers line up to have their temperatures taken at Suvarnabhumi Airport
Incoming passengers line up to have their temperatures taken and health assessed at a checkpoint, at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok on Mar 9, 2020. (Photo: VIVEK PRAKASH / AFP)

BANGKOK: Travellers from China, including Macau and Hong Kong, Iran, Italy and South Korea are now required to present a medical certificate proving they are not infected with COVID-19 before boarding their flight to Thailand, according to the Thai Civil Aviation Authority (CAAT).

“If any passenger is unable to present such certificate, boarding shall be denied and the boarding pass shall not be issued,” CAAT said in its announcement on Sunday (Mar 8).

READ: COVID-19: Malaysia bars travellers from South Korea, confirms 2 new cases

The Medical Certificate for General Passenger is available on the Department of Disease Control's website. In the form, a certified medical doctor has to declare the passenger free from COVID-19 over the period of 14 days before departure and supply evidence of negative testing for the disease within 48 hours before the flight.

The new requirement has affected several passengers including Matt Meehan from the United States. 

He was supposed to fly from Hong Kong on Tuesday for a holiday in Bangkok but was forced to change his travel plan at the Hong Kong International Airport, where he was informed of the health certificate.

"When we arrived at the airport to check in, three hours beforehand, we were informed we needed to get that form filled out. Being blindsided, and getting no help from Thai Airways on how we can continue travel, we had to change flights," he told CNA.

"We explained we didn’t have access to any Hong Kong personal physician as we were US citizens visiting for three days, but that didn’t matter."

Eventually, Meehan managed to change his travel plan to transit Bangkok for Tokyo, where he will then fly back to the United States. 

He told CNA the new requirement by CAAT has cost him about US$800 to US$1,200, including non-refundable accommodation in Bangkok and extra time in Tokyo. 

"We were somewhat expecting to run into issues while traveling, but this morning was like running into a brick wall," he said.

CAAT’s notification is part of a guidelines for carriers that provide services in the six destinations with COVID-19 outbreaks.

It followed an announcement by the Public Health Ministry on Mar 5 that declared China, including Macau and Hong Kong, Iran, Italy and South Korea “dangerous communicable disease infected zones”. 

READ: Tour buses idle as Thai economy takes gut punch from virus

READ: Thais advised to postpone unnecessary trips to nine COVID-19 affected destinations

According to Thailand’s Communicable Diseases Act, authorities can request travellers from the disease-infected areas to be isolated, quarantined or controlled for observation in order to prevent and control the outbreak.

In its Mar 8 announcement, CAAT also ordered air operators providing services in the disease-infected zones to cover the expenses related to the isolation, quarantine, confinement for observation, and immunisation of the persons on board. These include “the expenses for the care, hospitalisation and prevention and control of international communicable disease", it added.

On Monday, Thailand’s national carrier Thai Airways announced that its passengers from certain destinations need to present a health certificate clarifying they have no risk of contracting COVID-19 before a boarding pass is issued to them. The places include:

  • Seoul and Pusan in South Korea
  • Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Guangzhou in China
  • The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
  • The Macao Special Administrative Region
  • Rome and Milan in Italy

Thai Aiways advisory

Thailand has reported 53 cases of COVID-19 so far. Nineteen patients are being treated in hospitals, 33 others have been discharged and one has died.

The health ministry said on Tuesday it has investigated 4,468 suspected cases to date, 2,844 of them were discharged from hospitals but are still being monitored while 1,838 others remain at healthcare facilities.

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Source: CNA/ga(hm)

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