The Ministry of Public Health of Thailand announced on 12 January 2020 that the first case of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Thailand was found in a 61-year-old Chinese woman traveling from Wuhan, when she arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport on 3 January 2020. The announcement was the first confirmation of a COVID-19 case outside China.
The first reported local transmission was confirmed on 31 January 2020, after a Thai taxi driver was infected by a Chinese traveler. On 1 March 2020, the Ministry of Public Health stated that Thailand had recorded its first death from COVID-19. It also designated COVID-19 a dangerous communicable disease in Thailand in an effort to contain the spread of the virus, as the announcement would empower authorities to order persons suspected of being infected with the disease to undergo treatment and to be put in quarantine. The authorities would also be empowered to close temporarily various venues affected by the disease.
Also, in March 2020, the Government approved a package of relief measures to help business owners and members of the public affected by impacts of COVID-19 on the Thai economy, while tougher measures against the disease were introduced for travelers to Thailand, including the cancellation of visa-free entry and the issuance of visas on arrival for visitors from most countries.
The number of COVID-19 patients in Thailand continued to increase, and the fight against COVID-19 was announced as the first priority of the country, with a package of measures to curb the spread of the disease. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration also ordered the temporary closure of places at risk in Bangkok.
On 25 March 2020, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha signed the Declaration of an Emergency Situation in all areas of the Kingdom, under the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations B.E. 2548 (2005), effective from 26 March to 30 April. A nationwide curfew was carried out for a certain period.
The enforcement of the declaration was extended several times. The latest enforcement, which is the ninth time, is in effect from 16 January to 28 February 2021, in order to cope with a new wave of local COVID-19 transmission in many areas of the country.
The Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) was established in late March 2020, with the Prime Minister as Director of the Center. A daily briefing, held following the Center’s meeting, has been broadcast live to give COVID-19 situation updates to the public and the press.
On 7 April 2020, The Government declared the COVID-19 situation part of Thailand’s national agenda. Certain businesses and activities faced temporary closure, and they were allowed to restart in stages from early May. In September 2020, the Cabinet approved a special tourist visa for long-stay visitors who agreed to go through a 14-day state quarantine, alternative state quarantine, or other form of quarantine. The decision aims to help the tourism industry, which has been badly affected by the COVID-19 situation.
Thailand was commended by several countries, even the World Health Organization, for its successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the rate of new cases in the country continued to slow.
A new surge of COVID-19 cases took place in the middle of December 2020 among foreign workers in Samut Sakhon province. The number of infected persons, both Thais and foreign workers in Thailand, has increased in many areas across the country. The situation has been dealt with urgently and with strong measures. Four zones for COVID-19 control were designated to step up measures to handle the situation in each area. They include (1) Maximum controlled areas with highly strict measures, (2) Maximum controlled areas (Highly Controlled Areas), (3) Controlled areas, (4) Under high surveillance areas
From the analysis conducted recently by the Ministry of Public Health, it appears that the current wave of the COVID-19 outbreak in Thailand is stable and likely to slow down within two weeks or by the end of January 2021. However, the authorities still cannot guarantee that the number of infected persons and deaths will not increase.
Source: The Government Public Relations Department