An announcement Tuesday from Thailand’s Public Health Ministry designated eleven countries and territories as high-risk areas for Covid-19.
The territories and countries referenced are the special administrative regions of Macau and Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Germany, China, France, Singapore, Italy, and Iran as locations from which travelers must be submitted to a 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Thailand.
The government of Nepal has also informed that it will suspend the issue of visas on arrival to people arriving from the Macau and Hong Kong SARs, as well as for all holders of passports from China, Japan, South Korea, Iran, and Italy.
The measure, which will be enforced from March 10, was justified by the Nepalese government as complying with the recommendations made by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Despite the restrictions imposed, the Nepalese government has clarified that the measure does not mean travelers are banned from entering the country. All people wishing to visit Nepal can do so by applying for an entry visa in advance in the diplomatic representations of the country, and by presenting a medical certificate stating that they have not been infected with Covid-19.
As for the restrictions to be imposed by Thailand, health authorities in the country explained that the restrictions will apply to Thai nationals arriving from any of the 11 high-risk countries and territories, even if they have a medical certificate clearing them of the infection.
Exceptions will only be granted with permission from Thai health officials, the statement says, although it did not explain in which cases such permission might be granted.
Those who do not have a permanent residence or lodging in Thailand will be required to show officials, upon arrival, evidence of where officials can locate them during the 14-day home quarantine period.
Foreign visitors or Thai returnees from the designated high-risk areas will also have to file a daily report about their health with officials during the quarantine period. If they have any symptoms of infection they must inform health officials within three hours so that they can undergo testing, receive treatment or be isolated.
Thai health authorities also warn that during the quarantine period, and in case people need further medical assistance, all expenses incurred will be borne by the individuals themselves.
When questioned during yesterday’s daily press conference of the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center, Inês Chan, the representative of the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), acknowledged that they were aware of the bans, but said, “For the time being, the MGTO has no official confirmation from the Thai government.”
Chan also added that the recommendations from the MGTO regarding travel restrictions advise that when people learn about such measures, they should abide by the requirements.
“We suggest Macau residents to be mindful of measures in place, especially during this period when measures [enforced] can change quickly from time to time,” she said.
Chan added that even in the case of flight suspensions, the measures do not necessarily need to from the government’s initiatives, “it can just be a simple commercial decision [by airlines].”
The Coordinator of the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center Leong Iek Hou, who said that such decisions being enforced by foreign jurisdictions might not just be related to the situation in Macau, but the fact that “some countries might consider [the] mainland and Macau as a whole [jurisdiction], so the measures they have implemented [with regards to China] apply to Macau as well.”
It is not yet clear when the restrictions introduced in Thailand will be officially implemented, as they must first be published in Thailand’s Royal Gazette.
For the time being, the only countries that have imposed restrictions on Macau residents or people that have recently traveled through Macau are North Korea, Comoros, Palau, Samoa and Vanuatu.
North Korea was one of the first countries to impose border control measures against Covid-19, closing its borders with Russia and China effective January 30. At the same time, the country imposed an entry ban on all foreign tourists and all North Koreans in China. Earlier, the country had already declared the suspension of all flights to China.
Comoros’ restrictions on Macau come from an entry ban on travelers coming from China or any other country affected by Covid-19 unless they undergo a 14-day quarantine period in an unaffected third country before entering Comoros, effective February 10.
Samoa imposed an entry ban on all travelers originating from or transiting through mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau, requiring that they must spend 14 days of self-quarantine in a country that is free of Covid-19 and must undergo a medical clearance three days before arrival.
As for the two archipelagos in the western and southern Pacific, Palau imposed an entry ban on all travelers who originate from or have transited through mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau within 14 days of their arrival in Palau, according to an order from the Office of the President effective February 1. Palau also suspended all flights from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau on the same date.
A statement from the Embassy of Japan in Vanuatu has noted the imposition of an entry ban on all foreigners who have stayed, lived in, or transited through China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau in the past 14 days, effective February 9.