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The coronavirus outbreak has left Thailand's hotels empty, its tour guides out of work, and its markets unusually quiet and empty. The country's wildlife may also be noticing a lack of visitors, as some species, such as monkeys, have become used to receiving food from tourists.
A video shot this week in Lopburi, northeast of Bangkok, showed large crowds of monkeys fighting in the streets, apparently fighting over a pot of yogurt. Residents of the city, famous for its monkey population, say the drop in tourist numbers means that there are far fewer people offering food.
"It's summer, so we usually see a lot of tourists, but now due to the outbreak there are so few that the markets are very quiet." Not enough tourists come to drop off food for the monkeys at Prang Sam Yod [temple], "Sasaluk Rattanachai, who posted a video of the fight online, told Khaosod English.
The monkeys are known to prowl the streets and steal food from unsuspecting residents and tourists. Fights between monkeys are not uncommon, but a fight of this size is rare, leading a Thai reporter to attempt a pop vox with the local monkeys.
Each troop has at least 500 members, according to Manad Vimuktipune of the Lopburi Monkey Foundation. They will steal anything, he said: "Colorful ornaments, hats, sunglasses." He added that there are fewer tourists in the city and not enough food is offered.
The coronavirus outbreak is a serious blow to Thailand's tourism industry, which is crucial to the country's struggling economy. This week, the country's tourism authority warned that the number of foreign visitors may drop to 30 million this year compared to 39.8 million last year, according to the Bangkok Post.
The government has been criticized for a lack of clarity about its targeting of potential visitors, including quarantine measures that are likely to be imposed on tourists from affected countries.
It was announced this week that passengers who have traveled or transited through multiple destinations - mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Korea, Italy and Iran - in the 14 days prior to arrival may be subject to quarantine. Travelers to these destinations must also provide a health certificate, issued within 48 hours of their departure, certifying that they are free from Covid-19.