Six more Chinese tourists found infected with coronavirus

Six more Chinese tourists found infected with coronavirus

Chinese tourists wear masks at a mall in Bangkok. The tourism sector is already being directly harmed by the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarsill)
Chinese tourists wear masks at a mall in Bangkok. The tourism sector is already being directly harmed by the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarsill)

Another six Chinese nationals entering Thailand were found to be infected with the Wuhan coronavirus, bringing a total number of cases detected in the country to 14.

Health permanent secretary Sukhum Kanchanapimai said on Tuesday there were six new cases of coronavirus infection in Thailand. They were aged 6-60 years.

All were Chinese nationals and five of them were family members travelling from China’s Hubei province, Dr Sukhum said.

Health officials had tested them all twice, and confirmed they were positive for the novel coronavirus, he said.

The new cases brought the number of coronavirus infection cases detected in Thailand to 14, he said.

The six new infections were being treated at Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute in Nonthaburi.

Of the total 14 infected patients, five had already been treated and discharged. The other nine remained at the hospital, Dr Sukhum said.

Health officials will also screen all arrivals from China for symptoms. 

"We will expand screening to all Chinese from China and prepare equipment to screen 100%,"  Dr Sukhum said.

Until now, only passengers from Wuhan, the southern city of Guangzhou and northeastern Changchun were screened across five airports - Suvarnabhumi,t Chiang Mai, Don Mueng, Phuket and Krabi. 

Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said he had instructed ministry officials in all areas to work closely with public health officials if they find Thais or tourists suspected of having coronavirus infection.

When asked about evacuation plans, Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said only that the ministry was closely coordinating with Thais living in China. 

To his knowledge there were 64 Thais living in Wuhan, in Hubei, and all were healthy, he said.

Mr Don said Chinese authorities’ move to lock down the city of Wuhan was a normal reaction to ensure the most efficient control to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

China had sought cooperation from Thailand regarding a ban on entry to Wuhan as it wanted to control the outbreak of the disease, and the government had cooperated. China promised to take the best care of Thais and other foreign nationals living in that city, the minister said.

“So far, no countries have sent planes to evacuate their people from China. We have to cooperate with China. Some countries wanted to evacuate their people but they must receive permission from China first.  Now, all countries, including Thailand, have prepared for the evacuation,’’ Mr Don.

The foreign minister of Japan announced in Tokyo on Tuesday that his government was sending a plane to Wuhan in the afternoon to begin evacuating Japanese citizens, with Beijing's permission. It would also carry relief supplies. 

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin said he had asked the Corrections Department chief to order prisons across the country to closely monitor the health of prisoners, particularly new Chinese inmates admitted this month.

He said there were 14 new Chinese inmates. They would be closely monitored.

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