Thailand's prime minister on Wednesday declared a nation-wide state of emergency to fight coronavirus pandemic, effective from Wednesday mid-night until April 30, local media reported.
In a live address to the nation, Prayut Chan-o-cha said that foreigners will be barred from entering the Buddhist-majority country, daily Bangkok Post reported.
"We understand that this will cause our citizens some inconvenience but sacrifices are necessary to stop the spread of the disease," Prayut said, according to online Thai Enquirer.
State of emergency empowers government to restrict travel, declare curfews, and shut down media spreading false information regarding the deadly virus known as COVID-19.
Thailand has 934 confirmed cases of the infection while four people died due to the contagion in the country, so far.
Officials have blamed party goers for the spread of the disease.
The decree, however, allows the premier to permit shippers, diplomats, drivers, pilots and others to enter the country.
Also, Thai citizens who are stranded in other countries will be allowed to return.
The premier urged people under the age of five and over 70 to stay home and banned public gatherings.
Ban on foreigners entering the country is to prevent the import of COVID-19 cases into the country, an official said.
The emergency decree has granted responsibility for security affairs to the supreme commander of the Thai armed forces.
"Only necessary measures will be issued, to prevent the spread of the virus," the premier added.
However, he said all shops selling food and essential consumer goods can remain open.
"Anybody taking advantage of the situation for their own benefit will face stern action," he said in an apparent reference to hoarders.
After first appearing in Wuhan, China last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 172 countries and territories. The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.
The number of confirmed cases worldwide has now surpassed 436,000 while the death toll has crossed 19,600 and over 111,000 have recovered, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University in the U.S.
Italy, China, Iran, and Spain continue to be the most affected countries.
Despite the rising number of cases, most who contract the virus suffer only mild symptoms before making a recovery.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.