More than 100 US soldiers arrive for joint exercises
More than 100 US soldiers from Guam and Japan arrived in Thailand on Monday on the back of assurances from the government that strict health surveillance measures were in place to handle any Covid-19 infections.
A special flight landed at U-Tapao airport in Rayong on Monday morning carrying 71 US soldiers from Guam. They went through a rigorous health check in compliance with guidelines issued by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), said the centre's spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin.
From the airport, the soldiers were transported to alternative state quarantine (ASQ) at the Conrad Hotel in Bangkok. The soldiers are in the kingdom to attend the SFAB SMEE joint drills with the army.
In the evening, another batch of 32 soldiers from Japan checked in at Anantara Riverside Hotel, another ASQ, after having been thoroughly screened at U-Tapao airport.
They are due to participate in the Balance Torch exercise with the army.
Dr Taweesilp said seven soldiers would arrive from Japan and land at U-Tapao airport on Tuesday. Three of them would take part in the Balance Torch drill, he said.
The seven soldiers would be quarantined at Anantara Riverside and The Idel hotels, Dr Taweesilp said, before stressing that it is mandatory for everyone to follow strict disease-control measures while they are in Thailand.
The spokesman said two military exercises have been postponed because of Covid-19.
Gen Nathapon Srisawat, special adviser to the Royal Thai Army (RTA) and director of the RTA's Centre for the Management of the CCSA, said the RTA and the US army had jointly agreed on the military exercises prior to the pandemic, before adding that the exchange of military experiences will benefit the army.
When asked why the RTA chose not to postpone the exercise despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Gen Nathapon played down the matter, saying the RTA will do its best to comply with health safety measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.