Asia Minute: Thailand Deals with Domestic and Foreign Coronavirus Concerns

Mar 4, 2020

The numbers of those affected by the coronavirus are continuing to rise. But the virus and the measures taken to fight it are having different impacts in various locations — including in the Asia Pacific.

Thailand reported its first death from the coronavirus over the weekend — the total number of cases in the country remains fewer than 50 at last count. On Tuesday, the government announced eleven “high-risk zones” where travelers coming into Thailand will be subject to further screening — although it’s still not clear exactly what that will entail.

The locations include China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and Singapore, as well as Iran, Italy, France and Germany.

Thailand’s government has other challenges — including the return of Thai citizens working legally and illegally in areas hit by the virus. The Bangkok Post reports at least 140,000 Thais have been working illegally in South Korea, including a large number in Daegu — the center of the country’s outbreak.

Another concern for Thailand is the impact of COVID-19 on its tourism industry, which is dependent on visitors from China. Reuters quotes the head of the Tourism Authority of Thailand as saying visitor numbers likely slumped 40% last month compared to a year earlier.

He also said sharper falls are expected this month and declines in April visitor arrivals are projected to be down as much as 60% from 2019.