January 28, 2020 / 5:44 AM / a month ago

Thailand coronavirus cases rise to 14, all passengers from China to be screened

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand announced plans on Tuesday to screen all arrivals from China for symptoms of the coronavirus and confirmed six more infections among such visitors, taking its tally to 14, health officials said.

Members of the Thai Airways crew disinfect the cabin of an aircraft of the national carrier during a procedure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand, January 28, 2020. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Thai tourist authorities meanwhile said the number of Chinese tourists to Thailand was expected to fall by 2 million to 9 million this year due to the coronavirus oubreak in China.

Thais were also advised to avoid non-essential travel to China, Sukhum Kanchanapimai, the health ministry’s permanent secretary, told a news conference.

The death toll from the outbreak now stands at 106, although there have been no fatalities outside China.

Thailand has the second-largest number of cases outside China, though it is far lower than the 4,515 infections in China.

Five of the patients among Thailand’s new cases, aged between 6 and 70, came from China’s Hubei province, and belonged to the same family, health official Tanarak Plipat told reporters. The sixth was from Chongqing city in southwestern China.

One passenger from among the family of seven travelling together was taken to hospital after showing symptoms on arrival, added Tanarak, the deputy director-general of the department of disease control.

The other four family members were quarantined after showing symptoms following monitoring, he added.

“Now we will expand screening to all Chinese from China and prepare equipment to screen 100%,” Sukhum said.

Thailand had earlier screened passengers only from China’s central city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, its southern city of Guangzhou and northeastern Changchun across five airports, from Suvarnabhumi in Bangkok to those at Chiang Mai, Don Mueng, Phuket and Krabi.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand said it expected the number of Chinese tourists to fall by 2 million to 9 million this year due to the coronavirus oubreak.

Tourism has been hit hard by China’s ban on all group tours as China is Thailand’s biggest source of visitors.

Reduced travel from China could result in 50 billion baht (£1.1 billion) of lost tourism revenue, the tourism ministry estimates.

TAT will propose to the government measures to help the industry, TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn told a news conference.

(Corrects to say Chongqing is a city, not a province, in China.)

Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat and Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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