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Flying rules tightened after Covid-19 infections found on Phuket flights



PHOTO: Flickr/Ferry Octavian
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Disease prevention measures are being tightened for air passengers after several cases of Covid-19 were found on flights from Bangkok to Phuket. The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand has issued new guidance for airlines and passengers, after passengers on 7 flights, operated by 3 different airlines, subsequently tested positive for the virus. Phuket’s Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration has ordered airlines to contact other passengers and tell them to get tested and to self-isolate. A list of the affected flights can be found HERE.

A report in Nation Thailand confirms that effective immediately, the following measures apply to air travel.

1. Airlines should limit services between 11pm and 4am in order to reduce the impact on passengers travelling between the airport and their accommodation, as well as being in line with available public transport.

2. In the event of flight changes, cancellations, or flight consolidation, carriers must inform passengers and take care of them appropriately, as per Ministry of Transport laws.

3. All passengers must undergo rigorous screening at airports and must wear face masks at all times. Body temperature must be measured with an infrared thermometer that does not come into contact with the body of the person being checked. If anyone does not wear a mask, or has a temperature higher than 37.3 degrees Celsius, they will be strictly prohibited from entering the airport area.

4. The passenger’s body temperature must be taken again prior to boarding the aircraft, using an infrared thermometer, and passengers will be tested again before leaving the destination airport. If a temperature higher than 37.3 degrees Celsius is recorded or a passenger has respiratory symptoms, such as cough, sore throat, runny nose, or shortness of breath, airport officials must immediately notify local health officials.

5. Airlines must consider appropriate arrangement of seats in the aircraft for the number of passengers on each flight, taking into account social distancing to avoid congestion.

6. Airport authorities and airlines must alert passengers of any possible risk. Confirmed patients or high-risk persons must refrain from travelling. If they violate this rule, they may be punished under the Communicable Diseases Act.

No stranger to flying between Bangkok and Phuket prior to the resurgence of Covid-19, the Thaiger has previously noted a distinct lack of social distancing while waiting to board domestic flights, as well as on the bus shuttling to and from the terminal. And when we recently shared the news of the 7 high-risk flights, one commenter on our Facebook post appeared to have had a similar experience.

“I was there, no social distance, bus to the plane was full, aircraft full until the last seat. In Bangkok everyone lined up like sardines to get on the bus to terminal.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand


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  1. Bob

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 10:49 am

    Flight from BKk to HKT recently all good until arrival in phuket. No airbridge so all passengers were packed into small bus. Sardine like.

  2. Glenn Smith

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 10:54 am

    Really you have to think why we are testing people when they arrive in Phuket
    Wouldnt it be simpler and smarter to test at the departing airport ??
    Before they get on a plane.

  3. David Robertson

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 11:02 am

    Just require rapid flow test not more than 24 hours before flight. Same as already have on arrival. How difficult can it be? Just test before not after!

  4. SJ

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 12:14 pm

    Why are they even operating flights ? Ludicrous

  5. Albert

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 12:19 pm

    Are there any restrictions, other than having a valid negative Covid-19 test, to transit between Phuket and Bangkok?

  6. Jason

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 1:12 pm

    This does not look good for a July 1 opening to international tourists! If you’re serious about it, people shouldn’t be coming from Bangkok (a major infection hub) to Phuket (a minor infection hub). Phuket, being an island has a good chance of eliminating the virus until the population are fully vaccinated. If Phuket is to reopen internationally, then it truly needs to be like a seperate country to the rest of Thailand. Only direct flights in from low risk countries. On that basis, tourists will come and in good numbers, fully vaccinated tourists. But if Phuket’s covid numbers increase because Thais from Bangkok keep coming, the numbers of infected will increase. And if vaccines aren’t rolled out to Phuket’s people quickly, it will fail. International Tourists like me, want to come back to Phuket, but only if the pandemic is being properly managed as it is in our countries. The Australia/ New Zealand travel bubble is an example that it can happen.

  7. Simon Small

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 3:01 pm

    “Wouldnt it be simpler and smarter to test at the departing airport ??”

    My thoughts exactly, @Glenn Smith, when I read “All passengers must undergo rigorous screening at airports”.

    It wouldn’t make the travel time any longer as instead of waiting for tests at Phuket they’d wait in Bangkok, and given the available space at both Bangkok airports it makes far more sense than testing at Phuket and avoids any worries about “sardines” anywhere.

    It doesn’t solve the problem of false negatives, but at least it solves all the other problems with no downside at all.

    Madness not to (so it’s unlikely to happen).

  8. Jason

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 3:24 pm

    If people (meaning Thais and expats) must go to Phuket, then make a PCR test 72 hours prior to departure, mandatory. I am serious that Phuket should be treated as if it were another country. If international tourists see that Phuket’s numbers of infected go up unchecked, you (Thailand) can kiss international tourists goodbye. We won’t come when there are other countries who do manage the virus proactively. It is in your hands. It must be direct flights to Phuket. No one will come if they are forced to come via Bangkok.

  9. Simon Small

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 6:19 pm

    “The Australia/ New Zealand travel bubble is an example that it can happen”

    IIRC the Aus / NZ travel bubble lasted five (5) days before it was closed, @Jason.

  10. Ian

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 10:08 pm

    Well at least England’s going the right way at last mr Simon small or should I say ij your not criticising us now are ya the world leaders ,we started like a tortoise finishing like a hare get rid of the military dictators and the corruption and Thailand will thrive if not it will die ,I feel so so sorry for farangs who have invested thier hard earned money in this country of scam ,lovely people but so corrupt so sad

  11. LondonAl

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 10:23 pm

    They stopped the Aus/NZ bubble because 2 people in Perth tested positive, if that’s the way forward we can forget about international travel forever.

    @Simon Small – Not quite sure what your point is, are you saying travel bubbles can’t happen or is this part of your normal diatribe whereby someone like Jason, who puts forward positive and constructive ideas, has to be told he’s wrong, even though he isn’t.

  12. Leo Z

    Tuesday, May 4, 2021 at 10:10 am

    Pack them like sardines on the planes and the buses from Bangkok, one of the epicenters of the outbreak in all of Asia (especially if serious testing levels were being done). Set them loose on an island that you were hoping to have open to international tourists in two months, but where vaccinations are sorely lacking. I don’t see any recipe for disaster at all.

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