Parents rush to fly kids home from US

Parents rush to fly kids home from US

Thirty-four Thai students from Pakistan are checked in Yala province before being quarantined for 14 days after they returned home. (Photo supplied by Wassana Nanuam)
Thirty-four Thai students from Pakistan are checked in Yala province before being quarantined for 14 days after they returned home. (Photo supplied by Wassana Nanuam)

Parents are rushing to bring Thai students back home from the United States after the country overtook China and Italy to record the highest number of infections worldwide with more than 142,000.

"I pray that my son will fly back tomorrow [Tuesday] and the flight isn't abruptly suspended,” said Pudit Assanamanee, a father of a 16-year-old student on a 10-month Global Intercultural Exchange in the town of Blythewood in South Carolina which was due to end in June. 

Mr Pudit told the Bangkok Post that the rate of infection in the city where his son is staying is quite low compared to other cities, but he fears that he won’t be able to bring his son back home if the US goes into full lockdown.

Mr Pudit said local pharmacies are running very low on hand sanitiser and face masks and those who use them are treated with scepticism, referring to cases of discrimination against mask-clad Asians.

"I worry that he will not receive medical treatment if he contracts the coronavirus. He has health insurance, but I think the US may not give as much priority to foreign students as its own citizens. Also, I don’t want to put a burden on the host family during the crisis,” he added.

Similarly, Panorjit Anantaporn, another parent of a 16-year-old student on an Overseas Ed Group exchange in the country, said her son had flown home from Kansas on March 28.

"I decided to bring him back after his school closed first for two weeks and then until the next semester. Fortunately, he was able to obtain a fit-to-fly certificate and a letter from the embassy before boarding the flight," she said.

According to an earlier media report, the parents of 200 students under the American Field Service exchange programme plan to ask Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to send in an aircraft to bring their offspring back to Thailand.

Meanwhile, 34 Thai students studying in Pakistan have returned to Yala.

The students arrived by plane at Suvarnabhumi Airport and travelled to Yala in two chartered buses, arriving back in this southern province at about 8am on Monday.

After passing the checkpoint at Ban Khlong Sai in tambon Yupo, Muang district, the returnees were taken to the public health development centre for southern border provinces run by the Public Health Ministry.

Dr Songkran Maichum, the provincial health chief, said the students would be quarantined at the centre for 14 days.

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