123 visitors from southern Africa asked to contact officials for testing

123 visitors from southern Africa asked to contact officials for testing

A foreign traveller walks inside Suvarnabhumi airport on Nov 29, two days before Thailand banned all arrivals from eight countries in southern Africa where the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus is spreading rapidly.(Photo: Reuters)
A foreign traveller walks inside Suvarnabhumi airport on Nov 29, two days before Thailand banned all arrivals from eight countries in southern Africa where the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus is spreading rapidly.(Photo: Reuters)

Authorities are still searching for 123 people who arrived from any of eight southern African countries, so they can be tested to see if they are carrying the new variant of the Covid-19 virus.

Permanent health secretary Kiattiphum Wongrajit said on Friday authorities were using all means in trying to get in touch with them - SMS, email, phone calls and phone apps. 

They needed to contact officials for an RT-PCR test for the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The travellers came from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa or Zimbabwe and entered Thailand between Nov 15 and 27 through airports in Bangkok and Phuket, he said.

A total of 333 travellers from the eight countries entered Thailand during that period. Sixty-one had already left the country and 105 completed the quarantine programme and stayed in the kingdom for more than two weeks.

Dr Kiattiphum said only 167 visitors who had been in the country less than two weeks were required to take another RT-PCR test.

They had taken an RT-PCR test on the first day of their entry, been given antigen tests seven days later at hotels and then left for other destinations approved by the government.

Dr Kiattiphum said so far 44 of them had been found and they underwent an RT-PCR test, leaving 123 yet to be located. Tests for the 44 were all negative for Covid-19 and the new variant, he said.

Sumanee Wacharasint, director of the Risk Communication and Health Behavioural Development Bureau, provided further clarification on Friday. She said not all arrivals from the African continent from Nov 15 were mandatorily required to take another RT-PCR test.

An earlier report in the media, including the Bangkok Post, quoted the Royal Thai Police as saying the Immigration Bureau and the ministry were tracking all visitors from the African continent who arrived since Nov 15 for another test.

Thailand has banned all foreign travellers arriving  by air from the eight southern Africa  nations since Wednesday.

The country registered 4,912 new Covid-19 cases and 33 more fatalities on Thursday. 

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