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Trials and tribulations 3. Returning to Thailand in the Covid era – on the home straight

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Trials and tribulations 3. Returning to Thailand in the Covid era – on the home straight | Thaiger

by David Jackson

Monday morning and I’m on the home straight assuming I pass my final Covid test that I took yesterday morning. The situation hasn’t been too bad over the weekend as I was allowed outside into the hotel’s garden area for 40 minutes each day. On Saturday the threat of rain caused the nurse to request my early return to my hotel room, presumably the paranoia of any possible illness caused her some consternation; luckily the rain didn’t materialise and I stayed outside, I am a Brit… rain happens!

It certainly feels good on the eyes to see infinity and to finally observe people going about their daily business in the adjacent street whilst safely socially distanced at 300m. The garden area here in this hotel is full of flowers and small trees so I have modified my room race track into an outside one although, regrettably, my times for ten laps are actually getting longer.

You can read David’s first and second articles about his time in quarantine.

Every Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) Hotel is paired with a local hospital and the nurses keep a good eye on you via the Line app. Every morning and night you have to report your temperature and they especially enjoy asking about your stools… welcome to Thailand. Incidentally, and most definitely not in any way related to the previous statement, there has been plenty of fruit and vegetables provided in both the Thai and Farang meals.

I have been asked to go into greater detail about the processes involved in the home country prior to embarkation. I must make a disclaimer here since I imagine systems and procedures will be changing rapidly, but this was my process. I have not included costings because this would depend upon the point of origin and many other factors.

The flight for me was booked via Thai Airways although the initiator of the paperwork for this flight was, in my case the Royal Thai Embassy in London. I eventually managed to book an ASQ myself after some stress because I was convinced there were not initially enough available.

In my case I did not need a visa since I already had a work permit and my exit/re-entry visa from a few months ago was still valid. The embassy will then issue you with a Certificate of Entry document so they know exactly when you are arriving in order to arrange the welcome committee (see my first article from last week). Incidentally I did everything online and there are some excellent staff at this embassy who really are working way beyond their remit so treat them well because they sincerely want to facilitate your return.

So, you now have a date and confirmed flight so stage two needs to begin. For me, I needed an additional insurance although I imagine many repatriates will already be covered, the key statement which should be shown on the certificate is Covid Cover to USD 100,000 and the welcome party will scrutinise this piece of paper so make sure it is bona fide. I used a Thai company via an agent and this contract was efficiently turned around in less than 48 hours.

The final two products are time specific. A ‘free of covid’ certificate undertaken via the PCR (aka. swab-up-nose) method plus fit-to-fly certificate. The rules are a validity of 72 hours prior to checking in for the flight and the embassy eventually confirmed a revised statement of 72 hours from the result and date of the certificate, not when the swab was taken. For me my covid test certificate was dated one day too early yet the doctor writing the fit-to-fly was happy to write a statement confirming the Covid test and dated it all within the 72 hour period.

This is what you need in specific order (excluding visa)…

  1. Flight
  2. Hotel
  3. Insurance
  4. Certificate of Entry (free from Thai embassy)
  5. Covid Free Certificate
  6. Fit to Fly certificate, or letter from a doctor (online in my case)

It was not cheap so do your maths; I have a job here in Thailand and certainly did not want to let down my boss, colleagues and students, so I 100% had to return. I personally do not think any of this is sustainable long term since the process which I followed, plus the 15 days lack of freedom, are brutal. Nevertheless, the hotels have done a grand job at making this happen so I imagine there will be some reverse pressure to maintain the 14 day quarantine for the time being if only to recoup some of this investment.

What an incredibly difficult year. The world is in a mess; we have virtually overnight destroyed the numerous transhumance systems created over many years to apparently save lives. We walk around scared to shake hands hidden behind masks and visors, like Armageddon is imminent, yet the 900,000 covid deaths are replaced in less than three days with new born children globally.

Let us hope that over the next few months the decision makers become slightly more pragmatic and, in my opinion, start to think about the longer-term economy and the status of foreign visitors within that. In the meantime, good luck with your paperwork and welcome back to The Land of Smiles.

The accompanying picture shows what can be achieved in eleven days using volumes and volumes of food packaging, chop-sticks, random pieces of plant and a pot scourer.

David Jackson in an English teacher and former headmaster from London working at St Mark’s International School, Bangkok.

Trials and tribulations 3. Returning to Thailand in the Covid era – on the home straight | News by Thaiger

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Avatar

    John Patisson

    Monday, September 14, 2020 at 1:44 pm

    Thank you Khun Phrayut for save our lived
    Keep door closed for mass tourism minimum till 2022

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Tuesday, September 15, 2020 at 12:53 pm

      Probably a little extreme, but I can’t help wondering why a “former headmaster from London” would end up teaching English at a second rate Australian international school in Bkk.

      Harrow International I could understand, or a village school in Nakhon Nowhere, but ….. well …..

  2. Avatar

    Durrrrr....

    Monday, September 14, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    What a fucking schmuck. I guess this eternal bachelor will put up with any level of absurdity just to resume access to 3rd world children. I think the authorities might wang to inspect his netflix viewing history along with all the other paperwork.

  3. Avatar

    Brian

    Monday, September 14, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    Haha, the temple even has dual pricing.

  4. Avatar

    Ben

    Tuesday, September 15, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    Not particularly helpful in anyway. Sorry!

  5. Avatar

    Gianluca

    Tuesday, September 15, 2020 at 7:43 pm

    Hi, thanks for amazing review; how much did you paid for 14 days quarantine hotel?
    Ther is a list with all the hotels ?
    Thanks

  6. Avatar

    james

    Wednesday, September 16, 2020 at 2:45 am

    I did the opposite, I left Thailand (Phuket) after seven months of not doing much in Phuket as it is all closed down, it is a ghost island and has been for months.

    I returned to England at the end of August.

    I went to the business lounge in Bangkok airport, had lots of free drinks and food.

    Got on the aeroplane and had lots of more food and free drinks, I fell asleep on the seat which folded flat into a two meter long bed, I woke up and had breakfast.

    I was picked up at the airport and within one hour was in my house where I had to self isolate for 14 days, I did not have to pay anything for my isolation.

    It was all very easy and no hassles at all, oh I did have to fill in a form online before I left Bangkok but that is the last thing I had to do.

    Why would I want to go back to Thailand when it is so difficult to do so and so much hassle?

    I will leave it for a year.

    Life is normal here, all we have to do is wear a mask in the shops but we can go anywhere we like at any time of the day.

    I am not showing off about the above experience, I just want to show life does not have to be as complicated as Thailand is now making it for visitors.

    Oh and the comment about rain and UK, it rained for almost two months non-stop in Phuket for the last two months, it will rain for another two months most days, it never does anything like that here in the UK, the talk of rain in the UK is just an out of date stereotype.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at 5:36 pm

      Doesn’t have to be as “complicated”, as long as you don’t mind a death toll one thousand (yes, 1,000) times higher than Thailand’s, with the number of Covid cases doubling every ten days.

      Not sure what there is to “show off” about there …..

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

No room at the inn – Bangkok hospitals turning away people seeking Covid tests

Tim Newton

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No room at the inn – Bangkok hospitals turning away people seeking Covid tests | Thaiger

Today’s drop in newly reported infections by the CCSA has dampened Thai’s desire for a Covid test in and around Bangkok. Now, many hospitals around the city are restricting the numbers of patients tested. And if you want to be tested, Thai or foreigner, you better be ready to pay for it.

Thai Enquirer is reporting that at least 3 private hospitals are not accepting new Covid patients, including BNH Hospital, Praram 9 Hospital and Paolo Hospital in Phaholyotin. But even the latter, who had received a new batch of test kits, said they will take walk-ins but only from 0800 – 1700. The cost at Paolo Hospital is 4,500 baht.

According to Thai Enquirer, the city’s public hospitals are also limiting the number of new Covid tests. Thammasat University Hospital and King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital are doing tests but only on who they consider ‘at-risk’ communities, and only 100 tests per day. Taksin Hospital, on the west side of the Chao Phraya, is providing free Covid testing but, again, only people they consider ‘at-risk’ patients. None of them are providing the popular drive-through services. For the majority of the hospitals charging, costs for the tests are between 4,000 – 6,000 baht, depending on the patients and their perceived risk levels.

293 new infections were detected in Bangkok over the past 24 reporting period. 210 more cases were reported from provinces directly adjacent to Bangkok. Around the country there were 1,390 new cases reported this morning, down on yesterday and Saturday’s numbers but still well in excess of the numbers being reported in Thailand’s first and second waves.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thailand provincial figures for Monday’s Covid cases

Tim Newton

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Thailand provincial figures for Monday’s Covid cases | Thaiger

The NBT has published an infographic including all the provincial data on new Covid infections over the past 24 hours in Thailand. Note that some of the data is released by the provinces one day but not reported by the CCSA as a national tally until the following day.

Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chon Buri, again, lead the way with the latest report. The provinces around Bangkok also feature heavily with today’s numbers. 63 of the country’s 77 provinces have all reported additional cases in the past 24 hours.

The CCSA earlier reported a total of 1,390 new Covid infections today. The tally is a welcome drop in new case reports after the last 5 days’ record levels of new infections. Yesterday there were 1,767 new infections reported.

3 more people have died of Covid-related illnesses, 14,851 people remain under state supervision.

Thailand provincial figures for Monday's Covid cases | News by Thaiger

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Website, self-quarantine for post-Songkran Bangkok travellers

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Website, self-quarantine for post-Songkran Bangkok travellers | Thaiger
PHOTO: bkkcovid19.bangkok.go.th website to register people returning to Bangkok.

Bangkok is taking proactive steps to deal with the likely surge of Covid-19 cases after the Songkran holiday, asking those returning to Bangkok to submit their timelines online and self-quarantine 14 days. Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang is urging all people entering Bangkok to visit a website where they can perform a self-evaluation to assess their Covid-19 risk.

The website, bkkcovid19.bangkok.go.th, allows travellers returning to Bangkok to input their travel timelines and their personal information after scanning a QR code. The system will help with contact tracing, aggregating all the travel information to make following any threads of Covid-19 spread much more efficient. Health officials will be able to access and contact anyone thought to have come in contact with a Covid-19 infected person.

Songkran is usually one of the busiest travel periods of the year with millions of people going on holiday or visiting relatives. The government launches road safety campaigns to combat the swell in traffic and accidents. And even with Covid-19 cancelling most Songkran celebrations, Bangkok still saw nearly 8 million vehicles coming and going this festival period. A swell in Coronavirus infections spread throughout the country is likely as people travelled all over Thailand and back to celebrate the Thai New Year’s holiday.

Governor Aswin explained the platform is hoped to help contain possible outbreaks by providing crucial information to health officials to trace Covid-19 spread. The system will analyze infection risk for each person who registers and give them instructions on how to proceed. People deemed to be at risk will receive a free Covid-19 swab test from Bangkok health officials, while low-risk cases will be instructed to self-quarantine for 2 weeks.

SOURCE: The Pattaya Mail

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