Travel News

Qatar Offers Passengers Booking Flexibility - THISDAY

DECEMBER 27, 2020

Qatar Airways has announced that it would offer passengers unlimited date changes and fee-free refunds for all tickets issued before 30 April 2021 for travel completed by 31 December 2021.

The airline’s latest enhancement to its flexible booking policy was designed to continue providing customers with peace of mind that they can change their plans with ease.

The airline is also making the option to exchange tickets for a travel voucher with 10 per cent additional value a permanent feature for all customers booking travel via qatarairways.com. The process for redeeming a travel voucher is quick and easy – passengers apply online and receive the voucher within 48 hours.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “Throughout 2020, we have provided customers the ability to modify travel without penalties as a result of the disruption to global travel caused by COVID-19.

“As we look forward to the possibilities of travelling again next year, Qatar Airways will continue to be by our passengers’ side, offering continued flexibility throughout 2021 as the airline they can rely on.”

The national carrier of the State of Qatar continues to rebuild its network, which currently stands at over 100 destinations increasing to 126 by March 2021.

Air Peace Operates Direct, Nonstop Flight to Jamaica - PUNCH

DECEMBER 27, 2020

Chinedu Eze Air Peace recently embarked on a direct, non-stop 11 hours flight from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos to the Island country of Jamaica.

The airline deployed one of its three Boeing 777 aircraft with registration number 5N-BVE for the historic flight, which departed at 17:00hrs conveying 132 passengers on board and has since arrived Montego Bay, Jamaica. The aircraft will fly into Montego Bay again on December 27, 2020 for the return flight the next day.

Disclosing this to newsmen, the Spokesperson of Air Peace, Stanley Olisa stated that it was a special charter flight and was the airline’s maiden flight to the Island country. He said the flight further accentuates the airline’s capability to operate flights to any destination in the world, adding that “Air Peace has the aircraft and the requisite manpower to do this”.

Air Peace has operated international flights to multiple destinations such as China, Turkey, India, Malaysia, Israel, United Kingdom, Thailand, Indonesia and recently launched scheduled direct flights to Johannesburg, South Africa, providing respite to travelers on the Lagos-Johannesburg-Lagos route and connecting the two giant African countries at affordable fares.

Chief Operating Officer of the airline, Mrs. Toyin Olajide said Air Peace commitment to excellence and determination to reduce the air travel burden of Africans by employing dynamics that are peculiar to the African people, has proudly earned it the title of the biggest airline in West and Central Africa.

She said the airline has recorded a lot of milestones in less than a decade of its existence and now services sixteen domestic routes, five regional routes and two international destinations, including the United Arab Emirates, which we launched in July 2019.

NCAA to slam $3500 per passenger on airlines that flout Covid-19 protocols for UK, SA - THE SUN

DECEMBER 27, 2020

By Chinelo Obogo


The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) will fine airlines $3,500 for each passenger from Monday December 28, 2020, for non compliance to Nigerian government’s protocols concerning flights coming in from the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Such flights may also be required to return non-Nigerian defaulting passengers to point of embarkation as the regulator says that repeated non-compliance by any airline will lead to a suspension of the airlines’ approval or permit to fly into the country.

The NCAA issued an All Operators Letter (AOL) on Saturday, December 26, 2020 and addressed to Country and Accountable Managers of all domestic and foreign airlines flying into Nigeria, stating that passengers flying from the United Kingdom and South Africa must present pre-departure permit to fly/ QR Code generated from Nigeria international travel portal and a documentary evidence of a negative Covid-19 ltest result done within 96 hours of boarding.

The NCAA said the Federal Government, through the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19 has reviewed the quarantine protocols to include that passengers originating from both the UK and SA would be received and processed separately by public health authorities.

The NCAA also stated that all the new travel rules would be applicable to both scheduled and non scheduled passengers from both countries.

The AOL signed by the Director General of NCAA Captain Musa Nuhu read, “With the recent spike in cases of Covid-19 in Nigeria and the reported transmissible new variant of the virus in the United Kingdom and South Africa, the Nigerian government through Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19 has reviewed the quarantine protocols.

“ Passengers originating from United Kingdom (UK) and South Africa: For flights and passengers originating from United Kingdom (UK) and South Africa with final destination being Nigeria the following shall apply.

“Passengers must present the following two documents in order to be allowed to board their flights to Nigeria: (a) Pre-departure permitto fly/ QR code generated from the Nigeria International travel portal showing evidence of payment for the post arrival day seven COVID-19 PCR test and (b) Documentary evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR result done within 96 hours(four days) of boarding from verifiable laboratory or health facility.

“On arrival in Nigeria, passengers will be received and processed separately by public health authorities. All passengers will be required to self isolate for seven days after arrival followed by COVID-19 PCR test.

“Passengers with a post arrival negative COVID-19 PCR result can exit self isolation and further management. A dedicated register of arriving passengers from the United Kingdom and South Africa will be opened and enhanced for surveillance and active enforcement of these protocols.”

According to the NCAA, the rules apply to all airlines with passengers originating from the United Kingdom and South Africa regardless of transit arrangements. It also said the new rules are applicable to scheduled and non scheduled flights from the United Kingdom and South Africa.

The NCAA further clarified that the earlier quarantine protocol which became effective from 18th September 2020 shall continue to subsist for flights originating from other countries except for the validity of the Pre-departure PCR test result which will now be 96 hours from date of departure.

On non-compliance, the NCAA said, “Punitive measures shall be taken against airlines who fail to comply with this All Operators Letters. The punitive measures shall include but not limited to the following: “Airlines shall be fines $3,500 for each defaulting passenger. Airlines may be required to return non-Nigerian defaulting passengers to point of embarkation. Repeated non-compliance by any airline will lead to the suspension of the airline’s approval/permit to fly into the country.”

Wike to re-impose COVID-19 lockdown in Rivers, January - VANGUARD

DECEMBER 27, 2020

By Davies Iheamnachor 

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has hinted that he would re-impose COVID-19 lockdown in the state beginning from January following the recent upsurge in the number of coronavirus cases in the State. 

Wike according to a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media, Kelvin Ebiri, gave a hint of the imminent second phase of lockdown amid rising cases of COVID-19 during the church thanksgiving service in celebration of the 90th birthday of Mrs Priscilla Nwanediye Mark, at the St. Martin’s Anglican Church, Omagwa in Ikwerre Local Government on Sunday.

Wike regretted the refusal of most churches and markets in the state to enforce the compulsory wearing of face mask in adherence to COVID-19 protocol, noting that the state government had initially relaxed the restriction on the number of persons who worship in churches which have often been violated. He noted that with the second wave of COVID-19, he would this week announce new stringent measures to check the spread of COVID-19 cases in the State, He said: “When you go to some churches, they don’t wear a mask. 

Go to market, they don’t wear a mask. They believe COVID is not real. It’s not real because it has not happened to you; nobody had died whom you know. When somebody has died and the person was close to you, you will know that COVID is real. 

“So, it is real and I want to appeal to all of you that we have to be more strict now because the second wave is more dangerous than the first wave. It’s very, very dangerous. I know how many people we have lost since the second wave started.” 

Governor Wike urged the Bishop of Diocese of Ikwerre to prevail on members of all the churches under his jurisdiction to always wear their face mask. “If you don’t comply, I have no choice, but to shut down the churches; Pentecostal, Catholic, Anglican. 

I have no choice because when you have it, who spends the money? It is the state that treats. So, we need to use the money for some other things, but not for this. Let us discipline ourselves and know that COVID-19 is real. Let nobody tell you that there is nothing like COVID. 

It’s real.” The governor urged Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, leaders in Ikwerre Local government area to use Mrs Mark’s 90th birthday to work in unison for the development to the area. He also used the occasion to extol the chairman of Ikwerre local government, Samuel Nwanosike for his commitment to the development of the area. 

Meanwhile, the Bishop, Diocese of Ikwerre, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Right Reverend Blessing Enyindah, stressed the need for people to always acknowledge God’s mercies in their lives. Enyindah in his sermon titled “Thanking God for His Mercy”, observed that this was an era where people lived below the lifespan of 50 years, said it was the mercy of God that made Mrs Priscilla Mark attained 90 years.

Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/20...

"Impossible situation": British skiers flee Swiss quarantine, destination unknown - REUTERS

DECEMBER 28, 2020

ZURICH (Reuters) - Hundreds of Britons have fled quarantine in the Swiss ski resort of Verbier, with the country’s health minister attributing the exodus to an “impossible situation” where authorities moved at short-notice to contain a new variant of the coronavirus.

On Dec 21, the Swiss government ordered people who had arrived from the United Kingdom and South Africa since Dec. 14 to undergo a 10-day quarantine to prevent the spread of more contagious variants of the coronavirus. It also halted flights before allowing them to resume a few days later so stranded visitors could return home.

Swiss media reported on Sunday that about 200 British citizens left Verbier before the end of their quarantine.

Asked about the run-away tourists, Health Minister Alain Berset told reporters in Basel: “We are aware of that. It is obviously a problem, there was an order to quarantine that has not been respected.”

He said he didn’t know the current whereabouts of the tourists, but suspected that they had gone home.

“One shouldn’t underestimate what an impossible situation it was,” he said. “We had to decide within hours what to do ... That things don’t work perfectly in such a situation, that problems surface is a reality we have to live with.”

Simon Wiget, director of Verbier tourism, told Reuters that the sudden quarantine order had placed local authorities in a difficult situation. “It’s our role to pass on information, we’re not the police,” he said.

Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

Lagos: Passports of travellers evading COVID test will be deactivated - THE CABLE

DECEMBER 28, 2020

The Lagos state government has threatened to deactivate the passports of travellers refusing to comply with COVID-19 testing protocols.

Akin Abayomi, commissioner for health, and Gbenga Omotosho, his information and strategy counterpart, made this known in a document on the state’s COVID-19 update.

Lagos, which is the epicenter of the pandemic in Nigeria, has recorded over 28,700 COVID-19 cases out of which 236 patients have died.

According to the document, over 213,000 persons have been tested out of the 24 million state residents.

The commissioners said there is an increase in positive cases of inbound travellers with the figure reaching eight per cent this week “as Nigerians in Diaspora return to spend Christmas in Lagos”.

They said many travellers paid for COVID-19 tests but refused to show up at the testing centers.

“A number of people paid for the COVID-19 test, but did not show up for testing. Efforts are being made through our logistics arm to reach this group of people,” the document reads.

“These attempts have been met with challenges as several people used fake contact information while registering on the testing portal.

“For the sake and safety of the general public, we request that the people in this group come for testing immediately, as we will submit the details of those that don’t to the Presidential Task Force for the deactivation of their passports.”

The commissioners said efforts are being made to identify buyers and sellers of fake COVID-19 test results.

They added the second wave of COVID-19 is as a result of large religious congregation, school reopening, opening of the economy, social gatherings amdy entertainment, variants, general laxity, false sense of security and non-adherence to guidelines.

Tourism on Agenda for Renewed Jamaica-Nigeria Bilateral Talks - SFCN

DECEMBER 28, 2020

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica] â€“ Tourism is expected to be a major item on the agenda of talks to take place soon in Abuja, Nigeria, aimed at formalizing a new bilateral agreement between the African nation and Jamaica.

Previously set for earlier this year, the talks were postponed due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic but with a direct air link now open between the two countries, Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett and Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon. Geoffrey Onyeama are expressing optimism of it happening soon.

Jamaica is being hailed as “the next big thing” for Nigerian tourists by that country’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon. Geoffrey Onyeama

Geofrey Onyeama: Foreign Affairs Minister of Nigeria photo by Lord777.

“For many years, we have been looking at formalizing a new bilateral agreement between Jamaica and Nigeria; now the contents of that are being put together. We were to have had a meeting in Abuja in April of this year; it didn’t happen because of COVID but is expected to happen soon,” said Minister Bartlett following a closed door meeting with Minister Onyeama at the Round Hill Hotel in Montego Bay last night.  He is hoping “that in the frame of all of that will be discussions with regards to tourism collaboration between the two countries.”

The Tourism Minister identified marketing through the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) as well as product development and destination assurance strategy developed by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), presented to the world as a new way of dealing with post-COVID tourism, as possible points of collaboration for which a technical corporation agreement can be arrived at.

Also on the cards is the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre, which was established by Jamaica to assess, forecast, mitigate and managing risks related to tourism resilience, caused by various disruptive factors.

“We have already established a satellite in Kenya for East Africa and we really would love to have one established in either Abuja or Lagos for West Africa,” said Minister Bartlett. An arrangement is already under consideration and will be pursued involving the University of the West Indies (Mona), which hosts the resilience centre in Jamaica, and a university in Nigeria.

Minister Onyeama concurred that “We now have the framework in place to strengthen the cooperation and to take it to another level and we are going to pursue that. COVID has delayed it but it has not stopped it so we are going to cooperate in different areas, in trade, agriculture, sports, you name it, and really fuse the two countries and our peoples together.”

He stated that Jamaica “has a comparative advantage in tourism, which plays an enormous role in the economy, job creation and so on, so we really feel that we would like for you to share that experience with us. We believe it will be a game changer. We’re looking at diversifying our economy; we’ve depended too much on oil and the petroleum sector and there are gold mines out there in other sectors that can really transform our economy and provide jobs for our teeming population of 200 million.”

The Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister said his country had a youthful population with most being in the age range of 30 years “so we believe with our brothers and sisters in Jamaica that we can transform the future of both of us into real wins. We’re looking at prosperity for our people and we believe that this partnership can deliver that for our two countries.”

He also expressed an interest in learning about Jamaica’s culinary strategy. “Nigeria has a wide variety of dishes and we were told that your ackee was voted by National Geographic as the world’s second best national dish, so I think there’s some knowledge that you have there that we also want to tap into,” he said.

On December 21, the historical link between Jamaica and Nigeria was strengthenedwith the first non-stop flight from Lagos landing at the Sangster International Airport.

Among those on board with the Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister was Jamaica’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, His Excellency Esmond Reid.

Last night he said this direct flight “is the beginning of a transformed relationship, not just for Jamaica-Nigeria, but for Africa and the Caribbean and Jamaica stands ready to play a central role in that partnership.”

U.S. to allow small drones to fly over people and at night - REUTERS

DECEMBER 29, 2020

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Small drones will be allowed to fly over people and at night in the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Monday, a significant step toward their use for widespread commercial deliveries.

The FAA said its long-awaited rules for the drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, will address security concerns by requiring remote identification technology in most cases to enable their identification from the ground.

Previously, small drone operations over people were limited to operations over people who were directly participating in the operation, located under a covered structure, or inside a stationary vehicle - unless operators had obtained a waiver from the FAA.

The rules will take effect 60 days after publication in the federal register in January. Drone manufacturers will have 18 months to begin producing drones with Remote ID, and operators will have an additional year to provide Remote ID.

There are other, more complicated rules that allow for operations at night and over people for larger drones in some cases.

“The new rules make way for the further integration of drones into our airspace by addressing safety and security concerns,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said. “They get us closer to the day when we will more routinely see drone operations such as the delivery of packages.”

Companies have been racing to create drone fleets to speed deliveries. The United States has over 1.7 million drone registrations and 203,000 FAA-certificated remote pilots.

For at-night operations, the FAA said drones must be equipped with anti-collision lights. The final rules allow operations over moving vehicles in some circumstances.

Remote ID is required for all drones weighing 0.55 lb (0.25 kg) or more, but is required for smaller drones under certain circumstances like flights over open-air assemblies.

The new rules eliminate requirements that drones be connected to the internet to transmit location data but do that they broadcast remote ID messages via radio frequency broadcast. Without the change, drone use could have been barred from use in areas without internet access.

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International said Remote ID will function as “a digital license plate for drones ... that will enable more complex operations” while operations at night and over people “are important steps towards enabling integration of drones into our national airspace.”

One change, since the rules were first proposed in 2019, requires that small drones not have any exposed rotating parts that would lacerate human skin.

United Parcel Service Inc said in October 2019 that it won the government’s first full approval to operate a drone airline.

Last year, Alphabet’s Wing, a sister unit of search engine Google, was the first company to get U.S. air carrier certification for a single-pilot drone operation.

In August, Amazon.com Inc’s drone service received federal approval allowing the retailer to begin testing commercial deliveries through its drone fleet.

Walmart Inc said in September it would run a pilot project for delivery of grocery and household products through automated drones but acknowledged “it will be some time before we see millions of packages delivered via drone.”

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Howard Goller

Press focuses on plan by Nigeria to ban flights from UK, USA, others - JOURNAL DU CAMEROUN

DECEMBER 29, 2020

The plan by the Senate Committee on Aviation of the National Assembly and the Ministry of Aviation to ban flights from the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries with high rates of COVID-19 is one of the trending stories in Nigerian newspapers on Tuesday.The Punch reports that the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi, on Monday said the National Assembly and the Ministry of Aviation were considering banning flights from the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries with high rates of COVID-19.

Adeyemi, who stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, said that a decision on the issue would be announced next week.

The Federal Government’s plan may not be unconnected with pressures on it to stop further spread of coronavirus by banning flights from nations with high rates of the virus.

Recall that the President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Prof Innocent Ujah, had in an interview with The Punch on Sunday, said that travellers from the UK and the US were worsening COVID-19 cases in Nigeria.

The NMA president stated, “Government knows that they (travellers from the UK and the US) are the ones responsible for increase in cases and the results have shown that and government knows what they should do.”

The newspaper says that 50 journalists and media workers were killed in connection with their work in 2020, the majority in countries that are not at war, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Tuesday.

The figure shows an increase in the targeting of reporters investigating organised crime, corruption or environmental issues, the watchdog said.

It highlighted murders in Mexico, India and Pakistan.

Eighty-four percent of those killed this year were “deliberately targeted” for their work, RSF said in its annual report, compared to 63 percent in 2019.

“For several years now, Reporters Without Borders has noted that investigative journalists are really in the crosshairs of states, or cartels,” said Pauline Ades-Mevel, RSF editor-in-chief.

Mexico was the deadliest country, with eight killed. “Links between drug traffickers and politicians remain, and journalists who dare to cover these or related issues continue to be the targets of barbaric murders,” said the report.

The Sun reports that the Nigerian Government said it has declared January 2021 a month to campaign on the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) in the country.

This indication was given by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, ahead of the January 1, 2021 takeoff date of the AfCFTA , even as it called on corporate Nigeria and industrialists to take advantage of opportunities offered by the continental economic bloc to promote Made-in-Nigeria goods.

A statement by the Minister’s Special Assistant on Media, Ifedayo Sayo, said that Nigeria could not afford to be left out of the world’s largest trading bloc, estimated at $3.4 trillion involving about 55 countries in continental Africa.

The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), the world’s largest free trade area in terms of 55 participating countries, will commence on January 1, 2021.

The commencement date will signal the beginning of the implementation of a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments across Africa.

The Nation says that using the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as yardstick, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has rated Nigeria as the best economy in Africa. In its 2020 World Economic Outlook, the IMF also ranked Nigeria as one of the world’s 26 top economies with an average GDP of $442,976 million.

The outlook ratings put the United States (U.S.) first with $20,807,269; China second with $14,860,775; Japan was ranked third with $4,910,580; Germany came fourth with $3,780,553 while the United Kingdom (UK) came fifth with $2,638,296.

Others are: India $2,592,583; France $2,551,451; Italy $1,848,222 and Canada $1,600,264. Nigeria emerged 26th with $442,976 after Belgium with $503,416. Countries are sorted by nominal GDP estimates from financial and statistical institutions, which are calculated at market or government official exchange rates.

Nominal GDP does not take into account differences in the cost of living in different countries, and the results can vary from one year to another based on fluctuations in the exchange rates of the country’s currency.

Such fluctuations may change a country’s ranking from one year to the next, even though they often make little or no difference in the standard of living of its population.

ThisDay reports that oil and gas industry experts have described Nigeria’s current deregulation of its downstream oil sector as uncertain, contentious and identified some inefficiencies therein.

Speaking during a recent webinar organised by the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC) to review the government’s deregulation policy, the experts explained that the current legislation and institutional arrangements establishes gaps which include conflicting provisions with respect to who has the power to fix the prices of petroleum products.

In a communique at the end of the webinar, the experts noted that the Petroleum Act of 1969, Price Control Act of 1977, Petroleum Equalisation Fund Act and Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency Act of 2003 all have varying provisions and powers on pricing of petroleum products.

According to them, the PPPRA has the power to determine the pricing policy of petroleum products and has been determining the prices of petroleum products in the recent past through its pricing template.

They noted that in the current context, it is equally difficult to establish the true cost of petrol importation into Nigeria with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) reportedly enjoying some monopoly power.

Thailand imposes new restrictions amid coronavirus outbreak - THE CANADIAN PRESS

DECEMBER 29, 2020

BANGKOK — Officials in the Thai capital have announced new restrictions, including the closure of some entertainment facilities during the New Year's holiday, as infections continued to rise following a recent coronavirus outbreak.

After months of seeming to have the COVID-19 situation under control, Thailand has seen two major clusters developing since mid-December that threatened to undo its progress. One has mainly infected hundreds of migrant workers from Myanmar at a seafood market near Bangkok, the capital, while in recent days a cluster has grown connected to a gambling den in an eastern province.

As part of the restrictions announced Monday, hostess bars, gambling venues and massage parlours in Bangkok were ordered by the city government to close from Tuesday until Jan. 4. Bars and restaurants will be allowed to remain open during this period, but must close at midnight and adhere to social distancing requirements.

Thailand reported 155 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday morning. Of those, 134 were local transmissions, 11 were migrant workers and 10 were from state quarantine, according to the government’s COVID-19 co-ordinating centre .

Meanwhile, the latest COVID-19 death in nearly two months in Thailand was confirmed on Monday. The victim was a 45-year-old parking attendant at an illegal gambling den in Rayong province, on Thailand’s eastern seaboard. Rayong Gov. Channa Ieamsang confirmed at least 148 active cases linked to the gambling den on Tuesday afternoon.

The man who died had chronic heart disease and diabetes and his coronavirus test came back positive on Sunday, according to Deputy Public Health Minister Satit Pitutecha, On Monday morning, he became tired and gasped for air before he stopped breathing on the way to a hospital.

In response to the outbreak in Rayong, officials have announced a widespread shutdown, including schools, bars and other entertainment venues, massage and beauty parlours and department stores. Restaurants in the province will be allowed to operate for takeaway only.

The early closing times for bars and restaurants in Bangkok means that New Year's celebrations are likely to be strongly muted. Some popular midnight-countdown venues, including in the city's central shopping district and along the riverside, had already cancelled live concerts and other activities, but some fireworks displays are scheduled to go ahead as planned.

“During the New Year's holiday we won’t impose travel restrictions, but there will be measures put in place in many provinces,” said Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who visited Rayong on Tuesday to discuss the situation there.

Kiattiphum Wongrajit, permanent-secretary of the Public Health Ministry, said the government would impose checkpoints at entry and exit points to some provinces seeking to prevent further spread of the virus. He also said migrant workers would not be allowed to travel outside of their residential and work areas.

Thailand generally has been viewed as successful in combating the coronavirus, due partly to its well-regarded public health infrastructure and people’s adherence to mask-wearing and other protocols.

But cases have jumped significantly since an outbreak was detected last week among migrants from Myanmar working at a seafood market in Samut Sakhon province. Millions of low-wage jobs in Thailand are filled by workers from less affluent neighbouring countries, especially Myanmar.

Samut Sakhon Gov. Weerasak Wijitsaengsri tested positive for the virus after meeting Sunday with senior health officials including Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.

More than 20% of Thailand’s total of 6,440 confirmed cases are migrant workers in Samut Sakhon, and cases connected to the cluster have been found in 44 other provinces.

Samut Sakhon was put under lockdown on Dec. 19, followed by Samut Songkhram and Samut Prakarn.

A government spokesperson warned Tuesday that the number of new daily coronavirus cases could rise to more than 10,000 in January under a worst-case scenario if the government does not do enough now.

If authorities impose moderate intervention measures, the number of daily infections could rise to around 8,000 by the end of January, while under the strictest measures the number would likely not exceed 1,000, according to the spokesperson, Dr. Taweesilp Visanuyotin of the COVID-19 co-ordinating centre .


Associated Press writer Bill Bredesen contributed to this report.

By Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul, The Associated Press


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