Tourists back govt but also extend stays

Tourists back govt but also extend stays

A Chinese tourist at the Erawan shrine at Ratchaprasong intersection prays while wearing a face mask. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
A Chinese tourist at the Erawan shrine at Ratchaprasong intersection prays while wearing a face mask. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

Chinese tourists in Thailand have expressed confidence in their government's attempt to curb the coronavirus outbreak by sealing off Wuhan.

"I am afraid of the disease, but we believe in our government," Huang Ding, a Chinese designer from the southeast province of Guangdong, told the Bangkok Post as she passed along Pathumwan Skywalk.

Ms Huang and her mother arrived in Thailand on Jan 22 ahead of the Lunar New Year celebration which started on Saturday. Guangdong is in the south of China, far from Wuhan and Hubei province, where the coronavirus originated.

Ms Huang, who is in her 20s, said she and her mother are scared by how "serious" the outbreak has become and believed that Chinese and Thai authorities would "need some time to solve the problem".

Her mother, who requested anonymity, said they have already visited popular tourist destinations such as Siam Paragon, MBK Centre, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, and the Grand Palace and leave for Pattaya tomorrow.

"We can travel normally because we are not from Wuhan [placed on lockdown]. However, we are scared because we have to return [to Guangdong] the day after tomorrow. Our plane tickets are already arranged," the woman in her 50s said. She said she and her daughter were following advice given by authorities and were wearing face masks in public areas.

"However, we have tried to avoid crowded places," she said.

They also gave moral support to those trapped in Wuhan. "It will pass," they added.

Meanwhile, Chinese tourists on Koh Samui are extending their visas to reduce the risk of catching the coronavirus on their return home.

The head of the Chinese-Thai association, who identified himself as Ken, told the Daily News that his team had been helping process requests for visa renewals after the Chinese government extended the holiday period of the Chinese New Year festival to Feb 2.

"I feel happy to be here," another Chinese national from Chengdu in Sichuan province told the paper.

"There aren't many Chinese people on the island and Thai authorities strictly screen people coming here."

Officials at Samui airport are using thermal scanners to isolate any arrivals with unusually high temperatures for surveillance and treatment.

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said the move by Chinese authorities to lock down Wuhan was a logical reaction and probably the most effective control measure to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.


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