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Thailand had the world’s first coronavirus case outside China. Here’s how it avoided disaster

Thailand had the world’s first coronavirus case outside China. Here’s how it avoided disaster

By South-East Asia correspondent Amy Bainbridge and Supattra Vimonsuknopparat

Despite having the first confirmed COVID-19 case outside China, Thailand has managed to flatten its curve, with only just over 3,000 infections.(AP: Sakchai Lalit)

Thailand is emerging as another success story in the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is all the more remarkable considering the country was the first outside of China to detect a case of COVID-19 back in January.

At the time, there was intense speculation the virus could ravage South-East Asia.

But Thailand — along with Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam — have all had low case numbers despite sharing porous borders with China and being densely populated.

Tanarak Plipat, who is the deputy-director general of the Department of Disease Control and has been at the forefront of Thailand’s response to the coronavirus, says the country was considered high risk because of travel from China.

“Put it this way, we know that there were a lot of travellers from China — especially from Hubei Province and at the beginning of the epidemic,” Dr Plipat told the ABC.

“They thought we were the highest-risk country because of how many tourists from Hubei province travel to Thailand.”

Thailand had the world’s first coronavirus case outside China. Here’s how it avoided disaster

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