A 43-year-old Egyptian soldier was only tested on Saturday having flown from Rayong’s UTapao Airport on Friday to Chengdu in China and back again. The plane and its party of 31 military personnel arrived in Thailand on Thursday and was not obliged to enter quarantine being classified as essential transport staff.
A senior officer and spokesman for the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army, General Apirat Kongsompong, on Tuesday made it clear that the Thai army had nothing to do with the visit by a plane carrying Egyptian military personnel, which first touched down in Thailand last Thursday. It later flew to China on Friday. On Sunday, it was revealed to have had a Covid 19 infected passenger, a 43 year old soldier, aboard who was not subject to quarantine provisions while staying in Thailand.
It has emerged that the soldier was only tested for this disease on Saturday, hours after returning to Thailand from China and having previously arrived in Thailand having visited Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates after taking off from Egypt.
A 43-year old, Egyptian soldier who arrived in Thailand last Wednesday, the 8th of July and left again on Friday 10th of July for China was swabbed tested on Saturday 11th July revealing a positive test result on Sunday for the Covid 19 virus.
This incident has triggered panic among top Thai officials who immediately announced an investigation team was being sent to Rayong province to track the soldier’s stay.
Egyptian military plane and 31 personnel aboard not obliged to quarantine in Thailand – treated as crew
It is understood that the Egyptian soldier and a party of 30 others, were not obliged to quarantine themselves while staying at a local hotel in Rayong. It is also understood that during that time, some of the travelling party visited a local shopping centre.
The plane and its crew were classified as essential transport personnel in order to clear them for entry into the kingdom and obviate the need to observe Thailand’s strict 14-day quarantine requirements.
A similar dispensation is currently available to invited guests of the state including diplomats and also businessmen travelling to Thailand to manage investments.
Plane left Egypt on Wednesday 6th of July
The party had left Egypt on Wednesday the 6th of July and had visited Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates before arriving at Rayong’s UTapao Airport.
Following a short stay, the aircraft party took off again on Friday and flew to Chengdu in southwestern China’s Sichuan province.
No reason for the trip to China has been given except an indication that it was a military matter.
Plane arrived back from China on Friday, the soldier was only tested on Saturday with a swab taken
The plane arrived back in Thailand on Friday just after midnight and it was only on Saturday that a Covid 19 test was taken.
Later the same day, the flight set off again on its return journey to Egypt. On Sunday, a Thai laboratory flagged a positive response to the virus.
It is also reported that the soldier showed some indication that he may have contracted the disease before the Covid 19 swab test was taken the day before.
Royal Thai Army disassociates itself from the controversy through its spokesman Colonel Winthai
On Tuesday, the Royal Thai Army responded strongly to the incident.
A statement issued on behalf of the army and its commander-in-chief, General Apirat Kongsompong, denied any knowledge of the plane, its mission or its itinerary.
Colonel Winthai Suvaree, a spokesman for the army, went out of his way to distance the force from the incident.
He warned that any attempt to link the trip to the Royal Thai Army should be considered ‘fake news’ of the most serious kind.
Press conference to follow from Covid 19 centre
A statement issued on Tuesday by the Covid 19 Administration Centre in Bangkok said that officials were examining the hotel, shopping centre and U-Tapao airport to ensure that the sites were safe.
A press conference will take place on Wednesday to address the public’s concern about the incident.
A key question, of course, is what was the purpose of this visit by the Egyptian military party and its short visit to China?