Authorities on Wednesday discharged 137 Wuhan returnees from the Sattahip naval base in Chon Buri province, leaving one of them still in quarantine pending fresh tests for the presence of Corovid-19 disease.
Deputy Public Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha said at the naval base that the quarantine on the returnees was successful as 137 people returned home as planned.
The other returnee under observation remained at Chon Buri Hospital. The patient already tested negative for the virus but still needed a retest for confirmation. If the subsequent test shows a negative result, the patient will be discharged, Mr Sathit said.
"All discharged people are happy to return home. They thanked officials for good care... Everyone is happy they can hug their families again. Some families will visit places and have meals in the [Chon Buri] province before going home," he said.
Some of the returnees said their relatives would pick them up at Sattahip naval base. Others boarded naval vehicles which will drop them at U-Tapao airport in Chon Buri, Suvarnabhumi airport in Samut Prakan province, as well as Don Mueang airport and main bus terminals in Bangkok.
Health authorities handed hygiene kits to the discharged returnees while Chon Buri officials and the navy gave them souvenirs.
Dr Sopon Iamsirithaworn, director of the Bureau of General Communicable Diseases, said the 137 discharged returnees tested negative for Covid-19 when they were evacuated from Wuhan city of China.
He said local cases of Covid-19 remained at 35, 18 of whom were at hospitals. Patients under investigation numbered 957, 857 of whom returned home.
Dr Sopon denied the rumour that Thailand concealed the number of Covid-19 patients because it received many Chinese visitors. He said that Thailand was the first country to detect infected Chinese tourists and that prompted ongoing strict screenings and public awareness of self-protection.
"Without the swift surveillance and prevention, the number of infected people would have been increasing," he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Rungruang Kitphati, spokesman of the Public Health Ministry, warned tourists to postpone trips to Japan. Those who needed to be there should avoid crowded places and see doctors immediately if they are ill upon their return, he said.