The Immigration Bureau and Ministry of Public Health report they are tracking down approximately 783 Africans who entered Thailand since November 15. They plan on testing for the Omicron Coronavirus variant to maximize public safety and alleviate public fear.
National police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk said authorities are trying to locate the South African visitors. Once located they will be required to undergo tests to determine if they are carrying the strain of the new Omicron Coronavirus variant.
It's not a reason to panic. The police are working urgently with the Department of Public Health on this issue," he said. As a result of the new variant, the immigration police and the ministry are strengthening Covid-19 controls at airports, he said.
Moreover, border security measures are being stepped up to prevent illegal border crossings by natural trails in the border provinces, he said, adding that a growing number of illegal migrants had been detained.
Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin, a spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), said that from Nov. 15, 333 people from eight southern African countries had entered Thailand.
Travel Ban Over Omicron Variant
South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe are the countries. Thai authorities have also imposed a travel ban on visitors from these countries, beginning Wednesday, he said.
He also said three of the 333 individuals had already left Thailand. Twenty-three of the African visitors have already been contacted via text message and requested to undergo an immediate RT-PCR test for Covid-19.
Government-run hospitals are offering the test for free, he said.
Visitors from eight African nations are encouraged to call 1442 for more information about this specific testing requirement for Covid-19.
He said that those who refuse to comply may be subject to legal action if they violate Thailand's communicable disease control law. Thailand has also imposed a 14-day quarantine on travellers coming from these eight African nations.
Those Thai nationals who returned from South Sudan from Nov 15 until last Saturday and could not afford the cost of a hotel-based quarantine are allowed to undergo quarantine at the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute instead, he added.
Undergo an RT-PCR test
It is also being required that more than 100 people who have previously arrived in Thailand from other countries that are also considered at-risk zones for the Omicron variant undergo a repeat RT-PCR test.
According to a report presented yesterday at the ministry's emergency operations centre, the most common symptoms of infections from the Omicron variant are similar to those experienced with the older strains, such as muscle pains.
Even though the Omicron variant infection has not yet caused severe illness, several deaths have already been linked to this strain, he said.
Despite speculation about the faster transmission of the new variant, there has yet to be any evidence to support it, he said. At the moment, he said, the best defence against Covid-19 is still being fully vaccinated.
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