Disease Control Department mulls tougher steps for returnees

Disease Control Department mulls tougher steps for returnees

The Disease Control Department vows to intensify surveillance against illegal Thai workers who have returned from Covid-19 hit-South Korea, following reports on social media they have ignored requests to self-quarantine at their homes for 14 days.

If the request for their cooperation fails, "we need to level up our control", department chief Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai said on Thursday.

The department's stronger stance against the workers came after owners of at least four restaurants in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket and Bangkok decided to clean and close their shops temporarily after some returnees allegedly visited their restaurants.

One female phi noi, or "little ghost", a term which refers to illegal Thai workers in South Korea, is suspected of dining at a restaurant in Phuket after her photo was posted and shared on social media.

"We're checking it and will bring her in for questioning," Phuket governor Pakkapong Tawipat said.

The developments are causing a new worry among the public who are already concerned by the escalating nature of the deadly viral disease, with four new cases -- two foreigners and two Thais -- yesterday bringing the numbers of patients in Thailand to 47.

From Monday to Wednesday, up to 358 phi noi returned to Thailand. Among them, 337, who did not have a high temperature upon their arrival, have been told to quarantine themselves for 14 days at home. Another 21 people had developed a fever, 19 of whom were found not to be infected, immigration officials said, adding doctors are still waiting lab test results of two workers.

The government earlier announced the workers from two South Korean virus hotspots -- North Gyoengsang province and Daegu city -- must be quarantined in state-owned areas for 14 days. "The Interior Ministry and the military will designate these areas," Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said.

The navy is able to quarantine about 200 people at its base in Dong Tan Bay in Chon Buri's Sattahip district, navy spokesman Vice Adm Prachachat Sirisawat said. Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Cherdkiat Atthakor said South Korea is strengthening its screening measures. From Monday, outbound passengers will have to pass temperature tests three times, with a base screening temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius.


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