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Govt: delay travel to Japan, Singapore

Travellers are seen at Suvarnabhumi airport. The Public Health Ministry's new travel advisory for Japan and Singapore is sparking concern among Thai tourists. (Bangkok Post photo)

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The Public Health Ministry's new travel advisory for Japan and Singapore is sparking concern among Thai tourists, many of whom are asking tour operators to refund their tickets.

The ministry on Tuesday advised people to delay travelling to Japan and Singapore while the two countries grapple with deadly coronavirus (Covid-19).

Those who cannot avoid visiting the two countries should take measures to protect themselves and prepare to be screened for the virus on their return.

Thai health authorities have extended coronavirus screening to cover visitors from Japan and Singapore after the countries reported local contagion cases.

Last year Thais paid more than 1.3 million visits to Japan, which scored high on their list of top destinations.

Authorities said that the virus outbreaks in Japan and Singapore had reached "Stage 3", of domestic transmission between locals with no record of meeting Chinese people. Thais who had visited the two countries in the past 14 days, and have fever or exhibit other symptoms, must visit a doctor and would receive treatment free of charge.

Since Feb 1, some 31,336 Thais have travelled via Don Mueang airport to Japan and 6,545 Thais to Singapore, the Immigration Bureau reported on Tuesday.

Charoen Wangananont, vice-president of the Thai Travel Agents Association, said a large number of Thais mistakenly believed the ministry had banned travel to Singapore and Japan.

"Actually, it simply urged the public to postpone their trips to at-risk destinations," he told the Bangkok Post on Tuesday.

Mr Charoen said even though travellers are cancelling their trips, airlines and tour operators cannot refund their customers because they are still operating normally.

"Since low-cost airlines are not refunding tickets, how can tour agents refund the money? Who will be responsible for damages? You can't let tour operators shoulder the financial burden," he said.

A tour operator who asked not to be named said 30% of her customers planning to visit Singapore and Japan have already asked for refunds after the ministry's announcement.

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Vocabulary:

avoid : to stay away from; to not use - หลีกเลี่ยง

burden : a serious or difficult responsibility that you have to deal with - ภาระ

cancellation : a decision to stop something that has been arranged from taking place - การยกเลิก

contagion : when something spreads or passes from person to person, so that more and more people are affected - การติดต่อ,การแพร่กระจาย

delay (verb): to do something later than is planned or expected; to cause something to happen at a later time - เลื่อน, เลื่อนเวลา

destination : the place where someone or something is going - จุดหมายปลายทาง

domestic : inside the country being talked about - ภายในประเทศ

grapple : to try hard to find a solution to a problem - ต่อสู้ดิ้นรนกับ

Immigration Bureau : the government agency dealing with people entering and leaving the country and those who want to live there - สำนักงานตรวจคนเข้าเมือง

mistakenly : something that was done that was not correct, an error - ความผิดพลาด, ข้อผิดพลาด,ความเข้าใจผิด

postpone : to delay; to decide that something will be done at a later time - เลื่อนออกไป

protect : to make sure that something is not harmed or damaged - ปกป้อง, ป้องกัน

refund : a reimbursement; an amount of money that is given back to you - เงินที่คืนให้

screening : the testing or examining of a large number of people or things for disease, faults, illegal objects, etc - การตรวจ

shoulder : to deal with or accept something difficult - แบกรับภาระ หรือสถานการณ์

transmission : the spread of a disease from one person or animal to another - การแพร่เชื้อ

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