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Visitors from Cambodia to Thailand face testing for COVID-19

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Passengers from MS Westerdam waiting to check in at Sihanoukville airport Friday. Supplied

Thai health authorities have ordered strict screening of passengers from the MS Westerdam and others arriving on flights or land from Cambodia after the cruise ship was allowed to berth in Sihanoukville on Thursday.

Dr Sukhum Kanchanapimai, the health permanent secretary, said Friday that they had forwarded a list of everyone aboard the ship to immigration so that they could be screened for symptoms of coronavirus if they attempt to enter the country.

“We have implemented the same measures we imposed on people from Wuhan. People aboard all flights from Phnom Penh will be checked. This also covers visitors by land,” he said.

On Thursday, Cambodia allowed the MS Westerdam to dock and disembark passengers and crew. The ship had departed from Hong Kong earlier this month with more than 2,000 people on board. However, it was refused entry by Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, the US territory of Guam and Thailand over fears of Covid-19 transmission.

Dr Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai, the director-general of the Disease Control Department, said the measure was not discriminatory but aimed at minimising risk.

Those aboard the MS Westerdam included two Thai tourists and 19 Thai crew members, he said. The Foreign Ministry was arranging for their return.

Meanwhile, Dr Taweesin Visanuyothin, a spokesman for the Public Health Ministry, said Chinese nationals wanting to return to Shwe Kokko in Myanmar were stranded in the adjacent Mae Sot district of Tak province because Myanmar’s government required them to have health certificates.

They had crossed the border to Mae Sot during the Lunar New Year. About 20,000 Chinese live in Shwe Kokko.

Two of the stranded Chinese are patients under observation. An Initial laboratory test found both of them were free of Covid-19, Dr Taweesin said.

The Public Health Ministry also reported yesterday that the local number of Covid-19 patients remained unchanged at 33. A Chinese woman, 33, had fully recovered and was discharged from the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute in Nonthaburi province yesterday bringing the number of full recoveries to 13.

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