February 4, 2020 / 9:17 AM / 13 days ago

Thailand evacuates 138 from virus-hit Wuhan

BANGKOK (Reuters) - A plane brought 138 Thais home from China’s coronavirus epicentre of Wuhan on Tuesday and they waved from evacuation buses as they headed off to two weeks in quarantine to ensure they are free from the disease.

Thailand, which has confirmed more cases of the new coronavirus than any country except China, announced a further six on Tuesday - bringing the total to 25.

Six of the evacuees from Wuhan were sent to hospitals with high temperatures after they arrived at the U-Tapao airport aboard a Thai AirAsia evacuation flight, public health minister Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters.

“They were checked for symptoms and fever and sanitized when they landed,” Anutin said.

The others will be quarantined for 14 days in a naval resort in Sattahip, 180 km (112 miles) east of Bangkok, and monitored closely.

Pictures released by the Thai navy showed the evacuees wearing masks and waving from the windows of the buses they boarded after getting off the plane. Authorities on the ground wore hazmat suits.

Three other Thais were not allowed to leave Wuhan, which has been in lockdown to try to stop the spread of the disease that has killed more than 420 people since it emerged early last month.

Thai authorities thanked China for helping the evacuation and said King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida had sent four tonnes of medical supplies to help Chinese authorities.

NEW CASES

Four Thais were among the six new cases of coronavirus reported in Thailand earlier on Tuesday.

They included a couple who had visited Japan and two drivers who picked up Chinese passengers in Thailand, Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai, director-general of the Department of Disease Control, told reporters.

It was not clear whether the couple contracted the virus in Japan or after returning, Suwannachai said.

Slideshow (3 Images)

Thailand confirmed its first case of human-to-human transmission on Friday when a taxi driver tested positive.

Thailand’s coronavirus cases so far include six Thais and 19 Chinese. Seventeen remain in hospital and eight have gone home, according to the health official.

South Korea reported a 42-year-old woman has tested positive for coronavirus after visiting Thailand. It was not clear yet where she had contracted the virus.

Reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Matthew Tostevin

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