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Thailand summons Egypt envoy after military crew member who broke quarantine tests positive for covid

Passengers check in at U-Tapao Airport in Rayong, Thailand on 4 February 2020 [LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP/Getty Images]
Passengers check in at U-Tapao Airport in Rayong, Thailand on 4 February 2020 [LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP/Getty Images]

Thailand has summoned the Egyptian ambassador after an Egyptian military crew member left a hotel where he was supposed to be self-isolating and later tested positive for COVID-19.

Spokesman for the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration, Taweeslip Visanuyothin, blamed the Egyptian embassy for sending the crew to a hotel rather than a state quarantine facility.

On 8 July the military crew member transited through Rayong U-Tapao Airport in the eastern province along with 31 other crew members, via the UAE and Pakistan.

That night they flew to Chengdu in China and then back to Thailand the next day.

Twenty-seven members of the crew visited two shopping malls close to the airport on 10 July. They were persuaded to take tests but left the country before the results came back.

The Bangkok Post reports that there were 1,889 locals at the malls as the same time as the military member.

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After the crew member tested positive, hundreds of locals at the mall at the same time had to self-isolate as did several staff members at the hotel. The floor of the hotel where he had stayed was sealed off.

The COVID-19 Situation Administration said that in light of the incident it has denied flight clearance requests for eight Egyptian military flights in July.

The Director General of the Department of South Asian, Middle East and African Affairs, Dusit Manapan, has asked Egypt to comply with regulations and measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Thai authorities have been criticised for failing to implement the quarantine and Prime Minister General Prayuth Cahn o-cha apologised to the public for what he described as an "unnecessary" incident.

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The news came as Thailand hit seven weeks with no local coronavirus transmissions.

In April, Thailand banned international passenger flights. This has now been relaxed but there are still strict regulations in place for foreigners entering the country.

Up until now most covid cases have come from Thai citizens repatriated from abroad.

Thailand has had 3,232 cases of COVID-19 and 58 deaths.

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