Here is the latest advice about travelling to Thailand during the China coronavirus outbreak

Here is the latest advice about travelling to Thailand during the China coronavirus outbreak
There is currently an ongoing outbreak of the SARS-like coronavirus in certain parts of Asia (Photo: Shutterstock)

There is currently an ongoing outbreak of the SARS-like coronavirus in certain parts of the globe, with confirmed cases of the virus in Thailand.

The World Health Organization says the official name for the disease caused by the new coronavirus is Covid-19.

The Coronavirus has infected more than 81,000 people globally, with the death toll now being over 2,700.

Is it safe to travel to Thailand? Here’s everything you need to know about the current travel advice.

What is the coronavirus?

The virus originated in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, but cases have now been confirmed in other parts of China and numerous countries around the globe, including Thailand.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that they usually cause “mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold. Most people get infected with these viruses at some point in their lives.

“These illnesses usually only last for a short amount of time.”

Symptoms may include:

  • runny nose
  • headache
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • fever
  • a general feeling of being unwell

However, human coronaviruses can sometimes cause lower-respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia, bronchitis or more severe diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

Wuhan City
The virus originated in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China (Photo: Shutterstock)

Is it safe to travel to Thailand?

With the virus having been found in China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and outside of Asia, guidance has been issued regarding safe travel.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised against “all travel to Hubei Province due to the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak.

“The British Consulate General in Wuhan city is currently closed. If you’re in Hubei Province and able to leave, you should do so.”

Gov.uk adds “The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China (not including Hong Kong and Macao).

“The Chinese government continues to impose further restrictions on movement within China in response to the coronavirus outbreak. These restrictions include the closure of some provincial highways and inter-city high speed rail, tight control on entry and exit to villages and townships across the country, and restrictions on movement within some cities and municipalities including Chongqing.

“Some airlines, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, have announced a suspension of flights to and from mainland China. Other commercial airlines are still operating, but it may become harder to access departure options over the coming weeks.

“Since 31 January, some staff and dependants from the British Embassy and Consulates are being withdrawn from China. Essential staff needed to continue critical work – including consular assistance – will remain. But the ability of the British Embassy and Consulates to provide assistance to British nationals from within China is limited, and would be even more limited in the event that the situation deteriorates further.”

When it comes to travelling to Thailand, the FCO has not issued a warning against travel to Thailand relating to the coronavirus outbreak, but Gov.uk has said: “There is an ongoing outbreak of coronavirus. The virus originated in Wuhan City, Hubei Province but cases have been confirmed in other parts of China and the region, including Thailand. You should comply with any additional screening measures put in place by the local authorities.

“If you’re returning to the UK from Thailand, consult the latest advice from the Department of Health and Social Care on actions you should take if you develop symptoms on your return.”

However, previous advice relating to travel to certain areas of Thailand due to safety concerns still stands.

The FCO “advise against all but essential travel to areas within the provinces on the Thailand-Malaysia border, including:

  • Pattani
  • Yala
  • Narathiwat
  • Southern Songkhla province. This does not include areas north of and including the A43 road between Hat Yai and Sakom, and areas north-west of and including the train line which runs between Hat Yai and Pedang Besar.”

The FCO also adds: “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Thailand.

“Bomb and grenade attacks have been indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. You should take care, particularly in public places, follow the advice of the local authorities and monitor local media reports.”

The FCO adds: “If you’re visiting Thailand, make sure you research local laws and customs before you travel. Laws and penalties can be different from the UK. Conviction for possession, distribution or manufacture of drugs can lead to the death penalty. See Local laws and customs.”

‘Public health emergency of international concern’

Gov.uk said: “Based on the World Health Organization’s declaration that this is a public health emergency of international concern, the UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate. This permits the government to plan for all eventualities. The risk to individuals remains low.”

If you have travelled from Wuhan or Hubei Province, China to the UK in the last 14 days you should immediately, even if you do not have symptoms of the virus:

  • stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as you would with the flu
  • call NHS 111 to inform them of your recent travel to the area

If you have returned to the UK from China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the last 14 days and develop symptoms of cough or fever or shortness of breath, you should immediately:

  • stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as you would with the flu
  • call NHS 111 to inform them of your recent travel to the country

Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at Public Health England, said:

“Isolating yourself from other people, like you would with other flu viruses, is in step with the best scientific and expert advice on how to stop the coronavirus from spreading.

“This means taking simple, common sense steps, such as staying at home and avoiding close contact with other people as much as possible.”