Infection checking eyed for passengers returning home

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Aviation agencies are planning to step up the screening of passengers from countries affected by Covid-19 and are assigning a small airport to specifically handle these flights.

Wg Cdr Suthirawat Suwanawat, general manager of Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport, said he has raised the issue with Chula Sukmanop, director-general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT). According to him, aircraft from virus-affected countries will be required to land at small airports like U-Tapao in Rayong province, where passengers can undergo screening.

Meanwhile, the Thais who returned from Wuhan on Feb 4 were all quarantined at a naval base in Chon Buri’s Sattahip for 14 days and those suspected of having Covid-19 were sent to a nearby hospital. Suthirawat said there is concern that Thailand will have to bear the cost of accommodating passengers who come from virus-affected countries but are denied entry at their next destination. He said these passengers will have to be accommodated for 14 days in quarantine pending test results.

This measure requires a ministerial announcement from the Public Health Ministry, so the CAAT can inform airlines that such flights will not be permitted to land in Thailand, Mr Chula said. Prime Minister’s Office Minister Tewan Liptapallop said he has urged all airlines to find ways to help people who have already booked flights and might have to cancel due to outbreaks in countries they are going to. It was proposed that people who bought air tickets before Feb 21 will get a full refund, while those who bought them after Feb 21 can postpone their flights until Dec 15, he said.

Group tours which cancel flights 30 days before their scheduled trips will get a full refund, and 50% back if they cancel 15 days beforehand, Mr Tewan said, though he did not confirm if any airlines have agreed to the proposal.

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