Thai officials issue quarantine order for passengers of cruise ships from high-risk areas as of March 12 due to COVID-19. Other rules apply.

Severity: Warning Alert

This alert began 12 Mar 2020 08:45 GMT and is scheduled to expire 19 Mar 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Enhanced health screenings
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Longer immigration wait times, demonstrations; possible quarantine measures, clashes

Summary
Thai officials have issued quarantine requirements for passengers and crew of cruise ships arriving from mainland China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Macau, and South Korea, which the government has designated as high-risk areas, to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Authorities also require cruise ships entering from the locations to submit a maritime declaration of health at least 24 hours before arrival in Thailand. The cruise ships will also need to declare the list of the ten most recent ports they visited and the body temperature of passengers and crew in the past seven days. Officials said that non-compliance could result in fines.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) had earlier announced that airlines must require travelers in Thailand-bound flights from the aforementioned high-risk areas to present health certificates before obtaining their boarding passes. Officials also require visitors arriving from these high-risk areas to submit the health certificate and a completed health questionnaire form for verification upon arrival in Thailand. Additionally, the health ministry announced that travelers arriving from these locations need to declare the place, including houses or hotels, where they will undergo self-isolation. Officials said that failure to comply could trigger fines and/or detention; however, the government's level of enforcement is unclear. Additionally, Thai Airways (TG) also announced that it would suspend all flights to and from Milan March 13-30, as well as Rome March 15-29.

Officials have also suspended visas-on-arrival for holders of passports issued by Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Uzbekistan, and Vanuatu. Additionally, authorities also revoked visa exemptions for travelers using Hong Kong, Italian, and South Korean passports.

Authorities have also increased health screenings at international airports, and will immediately transfer travelers who display known symptoms of COVID-19 to designated hospitals. The measures are unlikely to impact most travelers but may lead to immigration delays, especially for passengers from high-risk locations. Officials could expand their response in the coming weeks, particularly if COVID-19 activity increases in-country.

Additionally, the local government in Phuket Province also requires new visitors arriving from South Korea to undergo a 14-day quarantine at a quarantine zone in the province. The measure does not affect people from South Korea who are already in Phuket. Authorities have also set up other quarantine sites nationwide to isolate Thai workers returning from South Korea.

Health concerns over the quarantine premises or plans to set up the facilities have also prompted dozens to hundreds of locals to stage demonstrations near the isolation sites in Ayutthaya, Chonburi, Phuket, Prachuap Khiri Khan, and Samut Sakhon provinces. Clashes between security personnel and protesters cannot be ruled out in any further protests.

Advice
Follow all official instructions, particularly if traveling from the specified locations. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings at all ports of entry. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Avoid any demonstrations as a precaution.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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