42 Thais ‘Positive’ of Covid-19 after attending Tabligh gathering in Indonesia

Passengers wearing masks at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, on Jan. 28. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Jakarta. A total of 42 Thai Muslims who attended a multinational religious gathering in Gowa, South Sulawesi, on March 18 have since tested positive for Covid-19.

At least 80 Thai nationals came to Gowa for the tabligh Islamic gathering, which was canceled at the last minute amid fears it would lead to mass coronavirus infections. 

“The Thailand Public Health Ministry said the 42 Thai nationals returned from Indonesia on a chartered Lion Air flight, arriving on April 6 at the Hat Yai Airport in Songkhla. Their return was facilitated by the Thailand Embassy in Jakarta,” Ahmad Rusdi, the Indonesian Ambassador to Thailand, told Jakarta Globe on Wednesday.

Over 8,000 pilgrims from 10 countries including Indonesia had already descended into Gowa before local authorities put a stop to the event. 

It is unknown where the Thais had contracted the coronavirus, but they passed a screening test at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta Airport when they left. They tested positive for Covid-19 when they were back in Thailand. 

“They passed the screening process at Soekarno-Hatta before they departed from Indonesia,” Ahmad said.

“They are now being observed by the Thai authorities. We have reported the case to the Foreign Ministry,” Ahmad said.

Currently, there are 3,000 Indonesian citizens in Thailand. Two have tested positive for coronavirus.

“We had two Indonesian citizens here who tested positive for Covid-19, one is now receiving treatment in Cambodia, and the other one is in quarantine in Bangkok. They’re both in good condition,” the ambassador said.

Some Indonesian citizens were stranded in Thailand after its government banned commercial flights from entering the country until April 18.

“We have several students who were supposed to return to Indonesia on April 10 and 11 on a Garuda Indonesia flight. But they are now stuck here,” Ahmad said.

“We’ve met with the students and have given them food, vitamins and money. We’ve asked Garuda Indonesia to put them on the next flight to Jakarta,” he said.

He said the Indonesian Embassy in Bangkok had already helped some students return to Indonesia earlier in March.

(The article, Dozens of Thais Test Positive for Covid-19 After Returning From Tabligh Islamic Gathering in Indonesia, by Nur Yasmin was first published on April 9, 2020, at Jakarta Globe.)

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