Thailand says 6 more of its citizens with COVID-19 entered the country illegally

BANGKOK: Thailand on Wednesday (Dec 2) reported six more Thai nationals infected with COVID-19 had illegally entered the country, skipped quarantine and travelled to different provinces, escalating fears of an new outbreak in a nation with relatively few cases.

The new infections follow four others last week, who also entered Thailand from neighbouring Myanmar through natural border crossings, avoiding immigration checks and the mandatory two weeks of quarantine.

With its normally strict border controls and surveillance, Thailand has kept the number of infections low at 4,026, with 60 deaths, but the new cases are causing fears of rare local outbreaks.

The six Thais had then travelled separately to four provinces, including the capital Bangkok, Sophon Iamsirithaworn, director of the Disease Control Department, told a news conference.

They had worked together at an entertainment venue in Myanmar, a country seeing an average 1,421 new coronavirus cases each day, with 92,189 infections and 1,972 deaths overall.

A health official told Reuters that authorities would have to track down hundreds of people potentially exposed to the six new cases.

They have managed to trace 300 people in recent days who were exposed to the first illegal entry case, but none were infected.

“These people lack responsibility to society and country,” senior health official Thongchai Keratihuttayakorn said.

“We are in the process of gathering information about who they came into contact with and a detailed timeline of where they were,” he said.

After returning, they travelled on planes, buses and taxis and visited entertainment venues and malls, some not wearing masks, Thongchai said.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha earlier said those who entered illegally would be prosecuted.

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