Covid cases down, international arrivals up

PHOTO: Tourist arrivals are increasing, but Covid cases are not. (via Suvarnabhumi Airport)

Good news for tourism, bad news for Covid-19: international travellers have surged while infection figures have actually declined. After Thailand relaxed its immigration measures, the number of tourists visiting has seen a steady increase. With extra fears due to Chinese tourism reopening amidst a major Covid wave there, the number of new cases in Thailand has been going down.

According to the Tourism and Sports Ministry, 914,746 of the 1,342,365 people who arrived in Thailand between January 1 and January 21 were foreign nationals. The majority of visitors came from Russia, followed by Malaysia, Korea, India, and Laos.

While the number of tourists is on the rise, the country is also seeing a decrease in coronavirus cases. A government spokeswoman reported that there were 627 cases of people being hospitalized in the country last week, including 44 deaths. This is a decrease from the previous week, when 65 people died and 969 new Covid cases were recorded.

Between January 8 and January 21, eight foreigners infected with Covid were recorded entering Thailand, with several coming from China. However, there were also cases reported from the UK, Cambodia, Japan, Korea, and Myanmar as well, the Phuket News reports.

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According to the Department of Medical Sciences, the Omicron strain is currently dominating in the country, with the BA.2.75 sub-variant accounting for 86% of cases. There is also a domestic sub-variant present. Additionally, a pulmonologist at Vichaiyut Hospital has warned that the newly imported XBB.1.5 strain could cause a new wave of infections.

The XBB.1.5 sub-variant, first discovered in India in August, is known to be more easily spread and has a greater ability to evade antibodies, however, it is less severe, particularly in those who have been vaccinated or previously exposed to the virus. In light of that, the government is encouraging citizens to get vaccinated.

To combat the spread of coronavirus, strict disease control measures are being implemented by Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt. Foreign visitors who test positive for the virus through antigen tests are swiftly quarantined at City Hall hospitals. Despite this, the governor assures that the disease situation in Bangkok is not critical, with fewer than 100 covid cases being detected daily.

The government is closely monitoring the Covid situation while they delicately attempt to find a balance between the economy and disease control.

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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