The 29-year-old tested negative for COVID-19 consistently at Samui Hospital last week despite conflicting reports from Bangkok that he tested positive first for the Delta variant and later for the Omicron strain. Ohan Baruch, however, broke the Emergency Decree imposed by a 2005 law which is the basis for the powers exercised by authorities to impose the ‘Test and Go’ entry regime for foreign tourists which although paused for new applications until January 4th at the earliest, continues to see tourist arrivals enter Thailand accounting for 90,000 people who were approved to arrive up to January 10th before its suspension.
The ordeal of the Israeli tourist who broke with the ‘Test and Go’ travel protocols breaking Thailand’s Emergency Decree on December 18th last continued on Wednesday when a criminal court in Bangkok fined him ฿2,000 after he submitted a guilty plea and was then handed over to the Immigration Bureau for detention before his deportation from Thailand.
The Israeli tourist who went rogue on December 18th last appeared before the Bangkok South Municipal Court on Wednesday facing charges related to a breach of the Emergency Decree after absconding on December 18th from his hotel room in Bangkok without waiting for his COVID-19 PCR test as required under the ‘Test and Go’ entry regime for foreign tourists.
29-year-old Ohan Baruch was arrested by police after officers at Thong Lor Police Station applied for and were issued a warrant from the court on December 21st.
Arrest warrant issued for rogue Israeli tourist on the same day as ‘Test and Go’ new approvals were paused
This was the same day that saw the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) suspend further approvals under the ‘Test and Go’ regime which allowed foreign tourists from 63 countries to enter Thailand subject to just an overnight stay and a negative PCR test.
Despite the pausing of approvals, a further 90,000 foreign tourists are expected to enter Thailand until January 10th next with the scheme set to be reviewed again on January 4th in the context of a rising Omicron threat, confirmed local transmission of the new, more infectious virus strain and mounting evidence worldwide that it is substantially less severe.
Pleaded guilty to charges in court and was handed over to Immigration Bureau police for deportation
In court, on Wednesday, the Israeli man pleaded guilty to several charges and was fined ฿2,000.
However, this did not bring an end to the ordeal for the former holidaymaker as afterwards, he was handed over to the custody of Immigration Bureau police for detention before his deportation from Thailand for breaking the kingdom’s laws.
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Conditions at the Immigration Bureau’s detention centre in Bangkok are notoriously overcrowded with several foreigners reported to have died while in custody after being arrested for immigration offences.
Surrendered to Ko Samui officials on December 22nd
The Israeli surrendered to police and government officials on Ko Samui on December 22nd by arrangement after he had made contact with the Israeli Embassy in central Bangkok.
Having arrived on December 17th the visitor failed to stay overnight at his hotel, which was already paid for, to receive his virus test result.
Instead, he set off for Pattaya where he had trouble checking into a hotel without his passport.
It was reported, at that time, that his test result was positive for COVID-19 with the Delta variant.
He subsequently returned to Bangkok and took a minivan to Chumphon on Sunday the 19th before arriving on Ko Samui on Monday, December 20th.
Breached the 2005 Emergency Decree legal provision and public health measures or regulatory orders laid down under Section 9 of the Act used since 2020
Police Colonel Duangchote Suwancharas, the superintendent of Thong Lor Police Station, on Wednesday, confirmed the accused man’s guilty plea in response to charges against him in court including a violation of essential COVID-19 public health measures under Section 9 of the 2005 law, the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations.
The police chief also confirmed that Mr Baruch was taken into custody by Immigration Bureau police after his court appearance.
Deportation in Thailand is not instantaneous and often involves liaison between the deported person and his or her embassy to verify the appropriate flight reservations which have to be paid for in full by or on behalf of the person being deported prior to the detained person being escorted to the airport and sent on their way.
Tested negative for COVID-19 repeatedly after being held in isolation at Samui Hospital over Christmas
Following his rendezvous with police on Ko Samui on December 22nd last, Mr Baruch was taken by ambulance to Samui Hospital where he was held in isolation.
He subsequently tested negative for COVID-19 in three consecutive tests despite reports from Bangkok suggesting at first that he had the Delta variant of the COVID-19 disease and later unconfirmed reports that it was the Omicron strain.
The Israeli man was flown to Bangkok on Monday the 27th December from Samui aboard Bangkok Airways Flight PG 172 and arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport at 10 pm.
He was handed over to Thong Lor police who held him in custody before his court appearance on Wednesday.
Omicron sparking growing unease about incoming tourists as a local outbreak in Kalasin grows
Under the 2005 law, the foreign tourist could have faced a maximum fine of ฿40,000 and up to 2 years in prison.
The 29-year-old’s actions have sparked alarm in Thailand where the government and the population are warily watching the emerging situation and the threat posed by the Omicron variation of the virus.
There are already over 250 locally transmitted cases driven in large part by two super spreaders, a husband and wife who arrived back to Thailand’s northeastern Kalasin province on December 11th from Belgium.