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Health minister: Kick out ‘Western’ tourists not wearing face masks

Health minister: Kick out ‘Western’ tourists not wearing face masks

THAILAND: Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul lashed out at “Western” tourists today (Feb 7) for not wearing face masks and suggested they be expelled from the country for putting others at risk during the coronavirus outbreak.

healthtourismCoronavirusCOVID-19
By AFP

Friday 7 February 2020, 04:36PM


Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul hands out masks tor skytrain passengers at Siam station earlier today (Feb 7). Photo: Anutin Charvirakul Facebook account

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul hands out masks tor skytrain passengers at Siam station earlier today (Feb 7). Photo: Anutin Charvirakul Facebook account

The outburst came as the kingdom faced steep losses over a drop in visitors from China, where the virus has killed more than 600 people and prompted sweeping travel restrictions.

Mr Anutin was distributing masks at the Siam skytrain station entrance and complained that “farang” tourists did not take them and acted as if they “don’t care.”

“These kinds of people, we should kick them out of Thailand,” he told reporters, waving a handful of masks in the air.

Mr Anutin did not respond to additional requests for comment but posted an apology on his Facebook page for “losing it” after “some foreigners from Europe” were uncooperative in the mask campaign.

More than 10 million Chinese tourists visited Thailand last year but the industry projects about 2 million fewer arrivals in 2020 because of the coronavirus, making US, European and other markets more vital.

Debates over the efficacy of masks have bounced around the internet since the contagion first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan last month.

Since then it has spread to more than two dozen countries and infected over 30,000, mostly within mainland China. As of today, 638 people have been confirmed dead.

Health experts generally agree masks are useful if you have respiratory symptoms or are caring for patients.

But the World Health Organization’s own Thailand office tweeted a graphic on Feb 4 stating masks are “not needed for general public who do not have respiratory symptoms.”

The WHO has advised people to wash their hands regularly and avoid touching their face.

Tourism accounts for 18% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and Chinese holidaymakers make up a quarter of total arrivals.

Thailand has detected 25 coronavirus cases and nine of those patients have recovered, while streets, public transport and shopping centres have filled with people wearing face masks.

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BriJay | 10 February 2020 - 17:20:56

Are arriving international passengers being offered face masks at airports?  Although getting them before departure would seem prudent, it is difficult to obtain them.  An order I placed on 19th January has just been cancelled by suppliers as they are using stocks for distribution in Asia. 

goldwing | 09 February 2020 - 10:25:25

At last a minister voices the racism that this military government has been pushing. They want the Western tourists money but not the people. I am e-mailing all my friends to spread the word, don,t come to Thailand you are not wanted

CaptainJack69 | 08 February 2020 - 23:28:35

What debate? Masks do nothing. All they do is protect others from you. What they ARE really good at is spreading fear and paranoia. Also  racist buffoons like this guy think think the're great for self-aggrandizing PR stunts.

DeKaaskopp | 08 February 2020 - 10:26:44

What an idiotic comment from the Health Minister.He seems to be as paranoid as the serial poster on here.At least he apologized for his BS, although not sure if it was an honest apologize.

Kurt | 08 February 2020 - 10:19:49

A Minister without 'international feeling'. His non diplomatic out burst ..'Ai puak farang' ( those dammed farang) went all over the world. His thai smile mask did fall off. Result: Another tourist blow as this anti 'farang' outburst will cost Thailand tourists.

fionoula | 07 February 2020 - 20:38:32

Why kick out Western Tourists. Why aren’t they insisting that all Chinese tourists wear masks?

Kurt | 07 February 2020 - 20:33:36

Well, it seems the Health Minister took off his emotional mask when it comes to western tourists. That is good, than we know about were he/Thailand stands in 'global tourism thinking'.  He should rethink about Chinese visitors.. Still allowing them to visit thailand this period. Oh, of course , it is just about money. We get it. Lucky countries not having such a Minister.

Christy Sweet | 07 February 2020 - 19:25:56

Whilst every other Thai has  finger in their nose- a far worse transgression than not using a mask. 

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