Following Monday night’s announcement by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha that Thailand will re-open quarantine-free for select vaccinated tourists from November, health experts have voiced concern. The Bangkok Post reports that some prominent medics are worried re-opening without quarantine will provoke a surge in Covid-19 infections.
Thira Woratanarat from the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University has warned that daily case numbers could end up doubling – and continue doubling every 3 weeks – as a result of the move. Thiravat Hemachudha from the Thai Red Cross says he supports the re-opening, but does have concerns about it triggering another wave of infections. Meanwhile, virologist Anan Jongkaewwattana asks a very pertinent question.
“If 100,000 tourists visit, how will we do PCR tests because we have never done so many before?”
The tourism minister is not to be deterred, however. Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn says the Tourism Authority of Thailand has been preparing for this for a long time, starting with the sandbox models in prominent tourism destinations, with plans to expand it further in November. He says the re-opening plans of other countries, including Singapore, have prompted the PM’s new policy, given that several other countries have already opened without quarantine.
“This is a competition to draw tourists in. So, if we still impose a Covid-19 quarantine on them, such as for 7 days, we won’t be able to compete well with other countries. The November 1 re-opening plan will attract a large number of tourists to Thailand between this year’s last quarter and the first quarter of next year.”
Phiphat says the Public Health Ministry is making arrangements to accelerate the Covid-19 testing process at airports, adding that more details of the re-opening plan and which countries it will apply to will be confirmed shortly.
“More details of the re-opening plan are expected to be discussed at the next meeting of the CCSA tomorrow.”
The UK, the US, Germany, and China are reported to be on the list (despite the fact that China’s citizens are currently barred from overseas travel) and Phiphat says more Asian nations, including Singapore, could be added.
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SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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