Thailand extends international flight ban to control coronavirus spread



BANGKOK, April 18 ------ Thailand has extended through April 30 a ban on international passenger flights landing in the country as part of its effort to control the spread of COVID-19. The ban was initially ordered April 4 after chaos broke out at Bangkok’s international airport when more than 100 returning Thai citizens reportedly refused to abide by regulations requiring them to go directly to state-run quarantine centers. The original three-day ban has already been extended once. Thai authorities even before the airport incident had announced that the return of Thais from abroad would have to be delayed because there were not enough facilities to properly monitor and quarantine them. Strict regulations requiring prior certification from foreigners that they do not have the coronavirus have effectively banned the entry of most foreign visitors. Exceptions to the ban renewal announced Wednesday by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand include state or military aircraft, emergency landings, technical landings without disembarkation, humanitarian, medical or relief flights, repatriation flights, and cargo flights. All who do enter are subject to health crisis regulations, including a 14-day state quarantine. Thailand has a huge tourism industry and in 2019, welcomed about 40 million visitors. There were 30 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 announced Wednesday, bringing the total to 2,643. Two more deaths were announced, bringing the total to 43, while 1,497 infected people have recovered. Meanwhile, Denmark has started to relax its strict coronavirus lockdown measures by allowing some classes to return nationwide Wednesday to school. The measure would apply only to preschool to fifth grade, while students above that should continue to study online from home. Gatherings of more than 10 people are still banned. Dentists, tattoo parlors, hairdressers, and other trades that have close physical contacts with patrons remain closed. Restaurants and cafes could only serve takeaway. Other shops, including supermarkets and grocery stores, have remained open for weeks but have urged customers to keep a distance from each other and have put a limit on the number of people allowed inside. On March 11, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen began a gradual lockdown of the country, which means that, among others, celebrations marking the popular figurehead monarch Queen Margrethe’s 80th birthday on Thursday — have been canceled. Frederiksen said Tuesday that Denmark can open “much faster” than expected citing figures showing a stabilization of the virus crisis in the Scandinavian country. Frederiksen also said that “it should not go too fast because should there be a setback, it will not be too severe.” Source: inquirer.net