Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered border security to be reinforced after the first case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 was detected in Malaysia, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana says.
A border security alarm was sounded as concerns grew over the cross-border spread of the new strain of the virus.
Mr Wangboonkongchana said Gen Chan-o-cha has issued orders for state agencies to keep a close watch on Omicron after a 19-year-old female student was identified as the first case of the variant in Malaysia.
The student, who travelled from South Africa via Singapore, arrived in Malaysia on 19th November.
Gen Chan-o-cha has instructed the public health, foreign affairs, tourism and interior ministries as well as security agencies to step up border screening, both at airports and border checkpoints.
Everyone entering the country must go through health checks and quarantine at state-run facilities. Anyone showing abnormal symptoms will be referred to hospitals for detailed tests.
Any Omicron cases will be reported directly to the prime minister.
The government spokesman insisted tough border measures are in place to repel people trying to slip into the country illegally via the porous border, which poses a critical threat as it could enable the spread of Omicron.
So far, Delta remains the dominant variant of COVID-19. Medical experts have confirmed the current vaccines are effective at preventing severe conditions caused by Delta given two doses.
Earlier, the Immigration Bureau announced it has located 150 nationals drawn from eight African countries at risk of Omicron. None tested positive for the new strain.
The bureau was tracking another 100 people from the eight countries who arrived in Thailand from 15th-30th November.
Yesterday, Defence Ministry spokesman Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich said the armed forces, police and the Internal Security Operations Command held a joint discussion to intensify crackdowns on illegal border crossers.