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Government apologises for Rayong Covid case

Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, speaks to reporters at Government House in Bangkok. (CCSA photo)

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The government said on Tuesday the Egyptian embassy dodged quarantine for its 31-strong military party visiting Rayong province, and 1,889 local people who went to the same malls as the Egyptian who tested positive for Covid-19 now face home quarantine.

Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, said the Egyptian embassy in Thailand arranged hotel accommodation for the Egyptian delegation instead of sending the visitors to a state quarantine facility.

"Regulations require the quarantine during their stay but the embassy contacted the hotel directly. Health and security teams learned later about the incident and did their best to cope," he said.

Dr Taweesilp referred to the 31 Egyptian military visitors who stopped over in the eastern province of Rayong on their way to China. One of them was later found infected with Covid-19.

The spokesman said the delegation arrived on military flights at U-Tapao airport in Rayong on July 8. They reached DVaree Hotel in Muang district, Rayong, at 11pm the same day.

On July 9 they left U-Tapao airport for Chengdu City, China. They returned to the airport at 11.30pm on the same day. They arrived at DVaree Hotel at 2am on July 10.

At 11am on July 10, 27 of the 31 visitors walked to Laemtong mall and stayed there until 2.56pm. Four others caught taxis to Centralplaza Rayong department store and stayed there from 2pm to 6pm.

After learning about their non-cooperation, local disease investigators tried hard to convince the visitors to take Covid-19 tests. They finally cooperated when the embassy was contacted. The delegation left for Egypt on July 11.

"CCTV showed that three of the visitors wore face masks. The others had face masks but did not wear them. The infected person wore his face mask while in public," Dr Taweesilp said. He assured reporters that the visitors did not go out at night.

He said nine people are considered at high risk of having contracted Covid-19 from the infected Egyptian military officer: two van drivers at U-Tapao airport and seven employees at his hotel in Rayong. 

The spokesman said the Thai Chana application showed that 394 people visited Laemtong mall and 1,488 people were at Centralplaza Rayong when the Egyptians were there. Seven other people were also at Centralplaza Rayong but officials had yet to verify their phone numbers.

Dr Taweesilp asked the local people to do home quarantine for 14 days and seek Covid-19 tests from local health officials.

He said that above all CCSA took responsibility for the incident and it would improve its operations. CCSA had expected the visitors to land at Suvarnabhumi airport, not U-Tapao. He said such visitors were normally quarantined at Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport hotel.

Because of the visitors' behaviour, CCSA cancelled eight Egyptian air force flights scheduled to bring visitors in July, he said.

"We are truly sorry for the incident in Rayong, where about 1,000 people are now at risk and about 10 schools must be closed," Dr Taweesilp said.

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Vocabulary:

blame : responsibility for doing something badly or wrongly; saying that somebody is responsible for something - การรับผิดชอบต่อสิ่งไม่ดีที่เกิดขึ้น

convince : to make somebody/yourself believe that something is true; to persuade somebody to do something - ทำให้เชื่อ, ทำให้แน่ใจ, ชักจูง

cooperation : a situation in which people or organisations work together to achieve a result that will benefit all of them - การร่วมมือกัน

cope : to deal successfully with a difficult situation - รับมือกับ

delegation : a group of people chosen or elected by a group to represent them - คณะผู้แทน, คณะบุคคลที่เป็นตัวแทนของคนกลุ่มใหญ่

dodge : to avoid something unpleasant - หลบหลีก

embassy : a building where a group of officials work who represent their government in a foreign country - สถานทูต

incident : something that happens, usually something bad - เหตุการณ์

operations : the activity or work done in an area of business or industry - ปฎิบัติการ

quarantine (verb): to keep a person or animal that might have a disease separate from other people or animals so that they do not catch the disease - กักบริเวณ จำกัดบริเวณ

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

responsibility : deserving to be blamed for something that has happened - ความรับผิดชอบ

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