Philippine Embassy irked by ‘land of COVID-19’ label of Thai newspaper

August 11, 2020 - 2:20 PM
Women travel in a public bus wearing protective masks due to the coronavirus outbreak, in Bangkok, Thailand March 9, 2020. (Reuters/Jorge Silva TPX Images of the Day)

The Philippine Embassy in Thailand decried a Thai newspaper’s headline about the Filipino teachers who arrived there amid their ongoing struggles to cope with the pandemic.

In a letter issued Monday, the Philippine Embassy in Thailand expressed “dissatisfaction” over the headline of the Thai Rath newspaper, a daily nationwide publication, for its broadsheet dated Aug, 9, 2020, which called the Philippines the “land of COVID-19.”

The Philippine Embassy has written the editor in chief of Thai Rath concerning the newspaper's headline yesterday.For the Filipino community's information.

Posted by Philippine Embassy in Thailand on Monday, August 10, 2020


The report being referred to was about the arrival of 165 Filipino teachers at the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Thailand on August 8 and was not health-related.

“The characterization is inappropriate, insensitive and unhelpful at a time when all of us, brothers and sisters in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), are closely cooperating to deal with the new and unforeseen challenges brought about by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic,” Consul General Val Simon Roque said.

Roque assured that the overseas Filipino workers sent to Thailand followed all the health protocols and quarantine conditions to prevent transmissions of the deadly virus implemented by the Royal Thai Government.

“We hope that this letter will find space in your newspaper for the information of the general public, and so that we can all promote unity and harmony to effectively deal with the COVID-19 pandemic during this difficult time,” he said.

Thailand had been among the countries in Southeast Asia that claimed to have contained COVID-19 among its constituents.

As of August 10, Thailand has a total of 3,351 confirmed cases and 58 deaths since the first case was reported way back in January.

Meanwhile, the Philippines continues to struggle with the surge of new cases despite the re-imposition of lockdown measures in Mega Manila, where the majority of the cases are located.

On the same day, the Department of Health recorded a spike of 6,958 cases which brought the total figures to 136,638.

Of these, 66,186 are active while 68,159 have recovered and 2,293 have died.

Mixed views from Thais and Filipinos

Amid the worsening health crisis in the country, some Filipinos concurred with the controversial headline of the Thailand newspaper in the form of witty memes online.

Other Twitter users expressed disappointment over the national government’s response to the pandemic and compared it to other countries.

Screenshot by Interaksyon

Meanwhile, some Facebook users who introduced themselves as Thais criticized Thai Rath and apologized to the Philippines for the “unethical” headline.

Screenshot by Interaksyon

The number of Filipinos acquiring COVID-19 overseas is also increasing.

As of August 9, the Department of Foreign Affairs announced that embassies abroad logged 9,754 cases of COVID-19 among OFWs.

There were also reports of infected OFWs who brought the disease to New Zealand and Taiwan, two other countries that claimed success in fighting off the new pathogen.

Last July, Taiwan health authorities confirmed five new patients with COVID-19 and five of them had travel history in the Philippines.

Last August 8, two more individuals from the Philippines who just arrived in Taiwan also tested positive for COVID-19.

New Zealand health authorities, meanwhile, reported one positive case from the Philippines last August 5.