Thailand’s splendid tourism season which brings possibly tens of thousands of holiday-makers is in limbo after country’s Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul ordered that any new arrivals from nine countries and two territories to undergo quarantine for the coronavirus.
Though the Minister withdrew his controversial comment on Facebook soon after it snowballed into controversy, the enough damages have been done by that time. He posted the controversial ‘quarantine’ comment that puts spoke in the Thailand’s tourism wheel, on Tuesday in which he said travellers from coronavirus-affected countries would be subjected to a 14-day quarantine "without exceptions".
The countries were China, South Korea, Japan, Germany, France, Singapore, Italy, Iran and Taiwan. China’s two provinces, Hong Kong and Macau were also included on the list.
The post was removed hours later, and his official Facebook page was taken down.
Tourism is a lynchpin of Thailand's economy, but the government has struggled to balance health concerns and virus control with salvaging flagging growth as Chinese visitors have evaporated. The beginning of 2020 was supposed to bring 7 million tourists to Thailand, but numbers have tumbled in the wake of the epidemic.
Mr Anutin's apparent moment of indecision — which fanned waves of concern on Twitter among Thais and foreign travellers — was played down Wednesday by Public Health Ministry spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin. "We have to wait which country would be designated as a risk country," said the spokesman during a daily press briefing.
Thailand has reported 43 confirmed infections and and one fatality linked to the virus.