Cambodian arrivals to be screened

Cambodian arrivals to be screened

Thai health authorities step up vigilance after Phnom Penh allows cruise ship to dock

Health officials instruct people in how to make hand-sanitising gel at the Department of Science Services in Bangkok on Friday. (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
Health officials instruct people in how to make hand-sanitising gel at the Department of Science Services in Bangkok on Friday. (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

Health authorities have ordered strict screening of passengers from the MS Westerdam and other people arriving on flights and by land from Cambodia, after the cruise ship was allowed to berth in Sihanoukville on Thursday.

Dr Sukhum Kanchanapimai, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Public Health, said on Friday that officials had received a list of all people aboard the ship and forwarded it to immigration, so that they would be screened for symptoms of the novel coronavirus if they arrive in the country.

"We have implemented the same measures we imposed on people from Wuhan city. People aboard all flights from Phnom Penh will be checked. This also covers visitors by land from Cambodia," he said.

Cambodia allowed the cruise liner to dock on Thursday and for passengers and crew to later disembark. The Westerdam departed from Hong Kong early this month with more than 2,000 people on board and was refused entry by Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, the US territory of Guam and Thailand over fears of Covid-19 transmission.

Dr Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai, director-general of the Disease Control Department, said the measure was not discriminatory, it was aimed at managing risks.

Those aboard the Westerdam included two Thai tourists and 19 Thai crew members, he said. Foreign Ministry officials were arranging for their return home.

Dr Taweesin Visanuyothin, spokesman of the Public Health Ministry, said Chinese nationals wanting to return to Shwe Kokko in Myanmar were stranded in adjacent Mae Sot district of Tak province because the Myanmar government required they have health certificates.

They had crossed the border to Mae Sot during the Lunar New Year festival. About 20,000 Chinese live in Shwe Kokko.

Two stranded Chinese were patients under observation. Initial laboratory tests found them free of Covid-19 disease, Dr Taweesin said.

The Public Health Ministry reported on Friday that the local number of Covid-19 patients remained unchanged at 33. A Chinese woman, 33, had fully recovered and was discharged from the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute in Nonthaburi province on Friday. That brought the number of full recovery cases to 13.

Of 20 hospitalised patients, two were in critical condition. One of them was dependent on a respirator.


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