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Measures to relax restrictions on foreigners entering the country,

Despite three cases of local transmission, New Year countdown activities can be held as long as they take place under health safety standards, says Gen Nattaphon Narkphanit, head of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s (CCSA) panel on the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

He said the panel will on Monday discuss with the Foreign Ministry measures to relax restrictions on foreigners entering the country, including visa arrangements for their travel, though public health safety will remain a primary concern. New Year activities including countdowns can be held under strict health measures aimed at controlling the spread of Covid-19, said Gen Nattaphon, also secretary-general of the National Security Council (NSC).

Deputy government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha instructed state agencies to step up precautions against Covid-19, particularly in the northern provinces of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in the wake of new Covid-19 cases involving Thais sneaking back across the border from Myanmar’s Tachileik town.

The prime minister stressed the need for efficient contact tracing to identify and monitor those who had come into contact with infected people to reassure revellers who plan for a long holiday weekend on Dec 10-13, as well as Christmas and New Year festivities.

“The prime minister has given moral support to all officials who are doing their job to the best of their ability to make sure people can travel safely during the year-end festivals,” the spokeswoman said.

“The government is convinced that Covid-19 control measures are efficient enough to detect infections and prevent further transmissions. However, the public are urged not to lower their guard and to follow healthy safety measures such as wearing masks and washing hands regularly,” she said.

Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn will lead senior officials on a visit to Chiang Rai tomorrow to follow up on local transmission cases.

Thailand recorded 14 new cases of the novel coronavirus yesterday, including one local transmission in Bangkok, for a total of 4,086. No new deaths were reported.

The CCSA said one of the new imported cases is a 26-year-old woman who went to Tachileik on Nov 6. The CCSA records show that she sneaked back across the border on Nov 27 with a male friend. The two stayed together at a hotel in Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai, opposite the Myanmar town. They also visited several places in Mae Sai together.

The woman flew from Chiang Rai to Bangkok on Nov 29 on THAI Smile flight WE137, and stayed at a hotel in the capital until Thursday. The man left Chiang Rai for Bangkok a day later, on Nov 30.

On Friday, the two went to the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Bangkok, where the man tested positive for Covid-19. The woman reportedly felt ill that day, and returned to the hospital on Saturday — where she also tested positive for Covid-19.

Sophon Iamsirithaworn, director of the general communicable disease division, said five people — mostly in Chiang Rai — were at high risk of contracting the disease after coming into contact with her.

One was tested in Chiang Rai and the result was negative, he added. He said the new case of local transmission was a health worker at an alternative state quarantine facility at a private hospital. She had a fever on Thursday and a test on the same day was positive.

“Currently, there are three cases of local transmisison — a 28-year-old man (transgender) in Chiang Rai who went to Farm Festival, a 51-year-old woman from Sing Buri who travelled on the same flight with infected people, and a 26-year-old woman who worked at the alternative state quarantine facility,” Dr Sophon said yesterday.

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