More than 100,000 people flee Bangkok as COVID-19 lockdown kicks in

Thousands of residents in Bangkok converged on bus and train stations last night (March 22) as they fled the city amid a coronavirus lockdown.

Locals were panicked after the country's government closed all restaurants, shopping malls and dozens of other types of businesses on Saturday (March 21), following an earlier ban on bars.

Crowds flocked to the Mochit bus station in the capital to travel back to their families in rural provinces while the pandemic continues to spread, with 122 new cases in the country today.

However, ministers warned that the mass exodus of people from the capital could cause the virus to spread into surrounding towns and cities.

The Interior Ministry alerted provincial governors to monitor people from Bangkok heading for their provinces amid fears they would further spread the disease.

They asked transport agencies to implement social distancing measures as people are expected to travel home, disinfect vehicles and screen passengers.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said on Saturday the government had considered several measures to tackle the spread of the novel coronavirus.

He said whether these measures would be implemented depended on an evolving situation but noted that people told first about impending changes.

"Still, the government will have to consider people's safety as well as their convenience,'' he said.

Thailand on Sunday implemented a de facto travel ban preventing anyone from entering the country without Covid-19 travel insurance or a medical certificate showing they carry no risk of infecting others with the disease.