BANGKOK — The government on Monday said it is closely monitoring the coronavirus epidemic in Thailand, where officials have confirmed eight cases of infection so far.
Speaking to reporters this morning, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha said there is nothing to worry about the virus as the government still has the situation under control, while a top health minister sought to downplay the growing public anxiety by likening the new strain of virus to a cold.
“I’m not a doctor, but I took care of myself for over 50 years,” Anutin Charnvirakul said on Sunday. “It’s just a type of flu. I see it as a flu … what we do when we see someone with the flu, we do that, just the same.”
He also urged the public to express solidarity with the experts working to contain the infection, instead of criticizing them.
“People shouldn’t criticize them or say things that demoralize them,” Anutin said. “We already have procedures for this situation.”
PM Prayut also said the government already ordered preparations to monitor and contain the coronavirus outbreak “a month ago.”
His remark came after the health ministry confirmed the eighth case of coronavirus patients in Thailand. Seven out of the eight patients were Chinese tourists, while the other is a Thai woman who recently visited the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus is thought to have originated.
Five of the eight patients had already recovered, the ministry added.
Thailand is a popular destination for Chinese visitors; over 10 million tourists from the mainland visited the kingdom in 2019. The coronavirus outbreak also came at a time of influx of visitors from China during the Chinese New Year holidays.