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Six places now "dangerous zones"

Passengers are seen on screen as they pass through a thermal scanner upon arriving at Suvarnabhumi airport on Feb 20. (Reuters photo)

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The government has defined four countries and two territories as dangerous zones and restrictions may follow to prevent the outbreak of coronavirus.

The announcement, dated Monday and published in the Royal Gazette on Thursday, classified South Korea, China, Macao, Hong Kong, Italy and Iran as "dangerous communicable disease areas".

The move came as the Thai postal service began disinfecting all packages received from overseas, although the World Health Organization has said it is safe to receive post from badly affected countries such as China.

No quarantine measure has been officially announced, but Public Health Ministry spokesman Rungrueng Kitphati told Reuters on Thursday it would come into effect on Friday. 

"Thais and foreigners who came from these places would have to go through self-quarantine for 14 days at home or in a hotel room, where they have to report themselves to the authorities every day or officials will come to check on them," Dr Rungrueng said.

This means that all arrivals from these places, including those that transit through them, will have to provide the authorities with their addresses and travel plans and be self-quarantined for 14 days.

Those that breached the quarantine will face a 20,000-baht fine, Dr Rungrueng said.

Arrivals who display coronavirus symptoms will be sent directly to government hospitals.

The government has to date been reluctant to restrict travel for fear it would further affect the ailing tourism industry, which makes up almost 20% of gross domestic product. Ministers and high-ranking officials have given mixed signals on the issue and even contradicted one another at times.

As for thousands of Thais gradually returning home from South Korea, the government has prepared facilities for the 14-day quarantine for those from Gyeongsang province and the city of Daegu, currently epicentres of the virus outbreak, the government said.

The country has recorded a total of 47 coronavirus cases since January, with one fatality. Thirty-one of the coronavirus patients have recovered and returned home, while 15 are still being treated in hospitals.

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Vocabulary:

ailing : ill and weak - ป่วย

authority (noun): a person or government agency who has the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ

breach (verb): to fail to follow a law, rule or agreement - ละเมิดกฎข้อบังคับ, ละเมิดสัญญา

communicable disease : a disease that can spread from one person or animal to another - โรคที่สามารถติดต่อได้

contradict : to say that the opposite of what someone has said is true - ขัดแย้ง

disinfect : to make something clean by treating it with a substance that kills disease causing organisms - ฆ่าเชื้อโรค, ทำให้ปลอดเชื้อ

epicentre (noun): the point on the earth's surface where the effects of an earthquake are felt most strongly; the central point of something - ศูนย์กลาง

gross domestic product : the total value of all goods and services produced in a country in a year, except for income received from money invested in other countries. It is often simply called GDP - ผลิตภัณฑ์มวลรวมภายในประเทศ

quarantine (noun): a situation in which a person or animal that might have a disease is kept separate from other people or animals so that they do not catch the disease - การกักบริเวณ, การจำกัดบริเวณ

royal gazette : a royal publication begun in 1858 by King Mongkut (Rama IV) as the official way of announcing news laws, decrees, ministerial proclamations, etc. - ราชกิจจานุเบกษา

symptoms (noun): signs that someone has an illness - อาการ

transit : to move something from one place to another - ส่งผ่าน

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