COVID-19 task force chides Bangkok Post’s awful ‘Africans’ headline

Update: As of 4:30pm on Friday, the headline was changed from “Govt hunts for African visitors” to “Govt seeks out African visitors.”

Thailand’s English-language paper of record was called out Friday afternoon by health authorities for a race-baiting story about “hunting” Africans.

A day after the Bangkok Post ran a story headlined “Govt hunts for African visitors,” the COVID-19 task force slammed it as “misleading” at its regular Friday meeting.

“Let me now turn and bring everyone’s attention to a misleading news report on the government measures for international travelers from Africa,” the Foreign Ministry’s Maratee Nalita Andamo said in English, referencing the headline but not newspaper by name.

“It was a very poor choice of words and we hope the editors will take good note of the negative feedback it has already elicited,” she added.

With fear running high about a newly emerged coronavirus mutation entering the kingdom, health authorities said Wednesday they were tracking down several hundred travelers who entered Thailand from Africa in recent weeks to test for the so-called Omicron variant.

The paper was quickly slammed from Bangkok to Johannesburg for the “awful” and “unfortunate” headline. Twitter user Ncontsi wrote that “apparently we are wild animals worth the hunt in Thailand.”

“What a very unfortunate headline and depressing reality,” wrote Bangkok crime fiction writer Tom Vater. “Who is reading The Bangkok Post these days?”

A South African man noted that despite the alarmist approach to Africa, it was not actually its apparent source.

“Omicron variant was in Hong Kong & other places around the world long before it was found in Africa,” MthokodaMpofana tweeted. “South Africa just let world media know of [its] existence. But go ahead & ignorantly ban Africans for a virus from Hong Kong.”

Granted, this objection is raised by the same government that regularly boasts of hunting Africans for visa violations under a police action program originally branded “Operation Black Eagle.”

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