Government reassigns the governor of Rayong after covid foul-up; opposition MP says he is a scapegoat

The government, on Tuesday, reassigned the governor of Rayong Province Surasak Jeerasirichot to another province after a high profile foul-up which exposed people within Rayong to possible coronavirus infection.

A delegation of Egyptian soldiers were allowed to enter the province without going through state quarantine on their way to a military drill in China. One of the soldiers later tested positive for coronavirus.

The government said that the reassignment of Surasak was part of a larger reshuffle and had nothing to do with the mix-up but opposition MPs questioned the move and said the government and the army were absolving themselves of responsibility.

“This is a move that is on the military and government level and not on the provincial level, the governor is just a scapegoat,” said Move Forward MP Taopiphop Lim.

“They cannot make each other lose face so they have found someone to take the fall for their mistakes,” he told Thai Enquirer.

Government to readdress loopholes

The government’s coronavirus center spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin said on Tuesday that loopholes meant that the Egyptian delegation had entered the country lawfully and without having to go through state quarantine.

They are among an exempted group of people that are allowed to enter Thailand without quarantine as stipulated by government guidelines. These guidelines were put in place by the cabinet on July 1.

However, according to Taweesin, the government is now changing the guidelines to ensure public safety.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will inform diplomats that they will have to enter a 14 days state-quarantine or alternate state quarantine if they are to enter the Kingdom.

The permission for eight military purpose flights from Egypt that are due to enter Thailand between July 17 and July 29 have all been canceled.

“We will use this period to reconsider the entire system in order to rebuild the public confidence before allowing foreigner to enter,” Dr Taweesin said.

“We would like to apologies to the people, especially the ones that are living in Rayong and Bangkok…we will do better and we will be more thorough with these groups.”

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