KUALA LUMPUR, April 22 – The Malaysian Embassy in Thailand and the Consulate General of Malaysia in Songkhla has facilitated the return of 677 Malaysians as of April 20 through border checkpoints between both countries amid travel restrictions imposed to control the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, said Malaysia’s Ambassador to Thailand Datuk Jojie Samuel.
The ambassador said this special arrangement was made possible after the Foreign Minister of Malaysia Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and his Thai counterpart Don Pramudwinai agreed, during their telephone conversation on April 17, to allow their respective stranded nationals to cross the border checkpoints.
He said the embassy has also issued more than 300 supporting letters for Malaysians who wish to extend their visa at Thailand Immigration bureau during these challenging times.
“We have also provided basic necessities for stranded Malaysians in Bangkok and Southern Thailand, like food packages, and assisted on the delivery of critical medical supplies for Malaysians who needed special medical supplies.
“Besides that, we also contacted the Malaysians in Bangkok and surrounding areas via email and social media platform to provide the latest information on the measures taken by the Thai government to control the spread of COVID-19,” he said during a special interview with Bernama TV through Skype on the latest update on COVID-19 in Thailand last night.
Samuel said a Malaysia Airlines chartered flight was successfully arranged with the cooperation of Wisma Putra Task Force on April 4 to bring back 101 Malaysians from Thailand who had their tickets cancelled due to the pandemic.
“We are happy to inform that they have undergone mandatory quarantine and none of them is tested positive for COVID-19 symptoms,” he said.
Commenting on the situation on the ground in Thailand following the pandemic, Samuel said the situation in most parts of the country is calm where grocery stores and public transportation system still remain open.
He said the pandemic, to a certain extent, had impacted the nation’s economy, where sectors like tourism, hotel industry and manufacturing sectors are badly affected.
On March 26, Thailand declared a state of emergency until April 30. In its bid to stem the spread of the virus, the Kingdom also temporarily closed its borders and banned entry to foreigners, except diplomats and work permit holders.
On April 15, Thailand extended the ban to include all international passenger flights from April 18 to April 30.
Thailand yesterday approved a second automatic visa extension for foreigners stranded in the kingdom for another three months following travel restrictions and cancellations of flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat was reported to have said foreigners whose visas had expired since March 26 would be granted an automatic extension until July 31.
As of yesterday (April 21), Thailand reported 19 new COVID-19 cases to take its tally to 2,811, and one fatality for a total of 48 deaths.