Thailand has been bracing for a possible outbreak of a deadly new coronavirus that has been taking its toll on people in China’s Hubei province, but local church services have remained unaffected. Several Chinese visitors to the country have been diagnosed with the virus, which has raised fears that it could take a foothold in Thailand where, especially in Bangkok, high population density could allow it to spread with relative ease. Within China thousands of people have come down with flu-like symptoms and more than 80 of them have died so far, including some medical professionals. Despite lockdowns of entire cities in Hubei province, the virus has been able to spread. Experts have warned that the virus, unless checked, could mutate and become more deadly. Thailand is a favorite destination for millions of Chinese holidaymakers and Thai authorities have stepped disease control measures at five international airports — two in Bangkok and three at popular holiday destinations around the country —to screen out passengers suspected of having the new coronavirus.
“As of 26 January, 21,522 arriving passengers have been checked and given a health care advisory card to follow,” Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health said in a statement on Jan. 27. Complicating matters is that the airborne virus can be transmitted from person to person even before any symptoms of disease are exhibited, according to foreign medical experts. Transport authorities and mass transit operators in Bangkok have increased the frequency of cleaning seats, straps and handrails. They have also started spraying disinfectant on Bangkok’s electric trains and train stations. In addition, hygienic masks are being distributed to passengers in an effort to check the spread of the virus. The mood across Bangkok has remained relatively relaxed, although many people have started wearing face masks. Catholic church services in Bangkok have not been affected so far by fears over the spread of the virus, according to officials. “We remain open and our daily Masses are conducted on schedule as usual,” a representative of Holy Redeemer Church in Bangkok told UCA News.
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