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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Leading Thai epidemiologist warns against opening borders

Jack Burton



PHOTO: Dr. Woratanarat - Thai Post

A leading epidemiologist on the faculty of medicine at Chulalongkorn University is calling for the government to suspend any plan to allow foreign tourists for 6-18 months. Dr Thira Woratanarat, who makes daily updates on his Facebook in the Thai language and is well followed in the Thai media, has been delivering regular warnings about the risk of Covid-19 to Thailand.

This morning, Dr. Woratanarat posted that the guard of the Thai population has dropped significantly although the virus is still very much a threat worldwide. He says research from the Ministry of Public Health, to which he is an advisor, shows that only about 60% of people in Thaland are regularly wearing masks now, compared to over 90% during the lockdown period in May.

He also says that the government should stop focusing the lack of new locally transmitted casesand move the focus to how the threat is still real, and how people should keep their guard up with social distancing and masks.

His biggest point, however, is the potential risk of importing the virus from overseas. Woratanarat feels that allowing more groups of foreigners into the country will eventually cause cases of the virus and potentially a second outbreak, leading to widespread lockdowns, which he feels the country could not manage financially.

Woratanarat is firmly against any “travel bubble”, “safe and sealed” or similar proposal by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and says Thailand should be self-sufficient until the situation improves globally or a vaccine is available.

He also believes the government should only let in foreign workers that are “absolutely essential”, expressing concern on the numbers of migrant workers being proposed to be alloed in and the potential danger of another outbreak.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News


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  1. Avatar

    Perceville Smithers

    Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 2:35 pm

    Is he suggesting the gov comes up with an 18 mos stimulus package for Thai citizens?

    • Avatar

      Gary Standen

      Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 3:25 pm

      Impossible, is he going to pay for this extreme measure. Just proves he has no idea what to do about it.

  2. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 3:54 pm

    Only let in foreign workers that are essential, Dr Watnut?
    You mean cheap, right?
    At the same time this Dr Whatanot says Thailand should be self sufficient!
    I wish this this Dr Whethernut would make up his mind.

  3. Avatar

    Gareth Bailie

    Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    Surprise surprise,another farang hater ( as all farang carry covid 19 ) ??

    Ive had 6 covid tests already as an offshore oil and gas worked in the Uae in 4 months and living in Samui like others and not been back to my mrs who is European since feb18,if all people follow the strictest precautions of which i feel a lot of foreigners are doing just now why not let more in under the controls,,

    Im all for precautions 100% all for it but not every person who is from western orientation is a carrier for Covid 19,look who has been bringing it into the country for the last number of months.

    Of course lets welcome in the Chinese into the country with welcome arms which was mentioned in a statement a few months ago,,to be honest fairpaly on your reporting and not your fault by no means but im sure that all westerners are having enough of this crap from the Thai authorities and for one im thinking about readdressing where im going to live when i get home and maybe sell up..feel disappointed

  4. Avatar


    Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 4:58 pm

    Strongly suggest Dr Thira Woratanarat forego a paycheck for the full period of time he’s suggesting – see how long it takes to change his mind.

    • Avatar


      Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 10:38 pm

      Yep he would change his mind like the

  5. Avatar


    Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 5:58 pm

    Dangerous man – why doesn’t he tell Thais to wear crash helmets on bikes and obey traffic laws -kills far more than this virus

  6. Avatar

    Rinky Stingpiece

    Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    It does rather have a whiff of “keep whitey out” by the descendents of imperiled fellows of a certain larger and expansionistic northerly nearby country. “Foreigner” seems to tend to mean non-Asians. Obviously what is required is an origin-neutral testing regime, that doesn’t worry about where people travelled from, as how reliable their test results and hygiene-maintenance protocols are. There won’t be much money to fund public health without tourist tax receipts; money is needed to fund all the technology to manage this health issue. Hua there’s a will, there’s a wei.

  7. Avatar


    Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 6:10 pm

    He is out of his mind , borders will open again in September 2020 , i have sources at CCSA office they are going to open but still apply 14 days quarantine and Airport speed test for some Categories,

    • Avatar

      Mike Frenchie

      Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 6:47 am

      Interesting but no tourist will come to ASQ… saying that, test before and at arrival plus social distancing shoukd do the job! Bali is reopening September 11. They will show the way forward…

  8. Avatar


    Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 6:25 pm

    This is the most outlandish comments ever, clearly by someone who neither understands modern medicine, business or government financial implications.

    He is basically saying, lets turn Thailand into a 3rd world or developing country again.

    Well done.

  9. Avatar


    Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 6:29 pm

    he is right, thailand should give up tourism and find a more safe way to make money, they could create their own car brand, replace everything they import with local products, thai wine, thai cheese, thai coke, thai mc do, thai kfc, then they can close the borders for good and live their nationalistic utopia like 90% of them want it (as recent survey say), then they could rename their country north korea 2, and give life leadership to payut !

  10. Avatar

    Standen Gary Charles

    Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 9:23 pm

    Why not just say 10 years and really cover your butt.

  11. Avatar


    Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 9:49 pm

    As others have mentioned, he should stop his salary and see his reaction. I work in tourism in Bangkok and we need tourists. Our business has been cut 90%. No salary and government stop social security in August. We tourists Now not next year. More deaths on the roads here.

  12. Avatar

    Reimund jopen

    Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 9:50 pm

    The idea let the borders closed is great. So in 1 year time Thailand can be proud only has 58 covid deaths . But what about the 10000 die with hunger and suicide. But this is another department.

  13. Avatar


    Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 10:14 pm

    The economic impact of 6-18 more months of closed borders would kill far more people than this supposed “virus” ever has or could.

  14. Avatar


    Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 10:57 pm

    Most epidemiologists worldwide disagree. Chinese tourists were visiting November-February without masks or distancing. Thai people had immunity to Covid by February. The Thai people developed full Covid immunity because of so much foreign tourism. OPEN IMMIGRATION has made Thai people resistant to diseases. Also, Thai doctors are the best in the world. They announced a cure in February. 30 other medicines are being used effectively. There has been only 58 deaths in 10 months from Covid in Thailand. Thailand has 5,000 deaths per month on average from normal flu. WHO/CDC visits in March caused Thailand to close borders and businesses. They have been discredited. Thai people are immune and do not need masks, but the media and people like this man frighten them daily with “cases.” Thailand should open its borders and accept tourism again and stop reporting cases. No more masking. Thailand has become the “land of masks.” It must open and return to being the “land of smiles.”

  15. Avatar


    Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 11:21 pm

    He is connected with the CCP govt if u google search his name many chinese media praise his efforts not to be trusted he has an agenda.

  16. Avatar


    Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 11:50 pm

    Smirk as wide as a Cheshire cat. Full pay and indexed linked pension for me. Just like all the other ‘scientific’ experts worldwide.
    Pattaya is now beginning to fall apart. Feel sorry for farang business owners. Get out if you can and leave this circus.
    Vietnam’s cases are picking up and Thailand is next on the list.
    What a double – destroy the economy before the virus runs wild.

  17. Avatar

    Khaja Sarfaraj Mansur

    Monday, August 10, 2020 at 1:05 am

    Thai people….. Raise your guard against this Dr’s created panic….. because he killing economy… He is more dangerous than Corona….

  18. Avatar

    elizabeth jeffords

    Monday, August 10, 2020 at 1:17 am

    I renewed my retirement visa in the first week of December…before leaving to Denver for my annual health check up and to visit my daughter and grandkids…I have been in self isolation since mid February…and in April had no Covid 19 titres..I will need to renew my retirement visa by December…I have been very proud of Thailand through out this debacle…and wish I had never left…

    Would it be possible for Thailand to put in place an internet retirement visa renewal plan..??..

    so that whenever the border is reopened I can rush back to Jomtien to have black forest cake at La Baguette @Phratumnak Hill Jomtien and river prawns and massaman at View Mare..

  19. Avatar


    Monday, August 10, 2020 at 3:14 am

    There are people from covid free countries like me that are trying to get to Thailand to be with those they love. When I say covid free I mean in my country free of community transmission for over 100 days, cases are quarantined at the border. I am engaged to a thai national and we were meant to spend this year together and also to be getting married in a few months time. There actually needs to be other groups of people considered especially from covid free countries so people can be together.

  20. Avatar

    John Williams

    Monday, August 10, 2020 at 10:04 am

    May we know what are the objections of the learned epidemiologist to the reopening of borders with neighbouring countries where there have been no new local Covid-19 cases for a long time, such as Laos, that reported in all 20 cases for the whole epidemic until today?
    Or more distant countries in the same situation such as New Zealand, with no new local case since May 22?

  21. Avatar


    Monday, August 10, 2020 at 8:13 pm

    he is a Leading Thai epidemiologist, he should know what he is talking about, seeing the situation in india and bungladesh, i think it’s more safe to keep the border close, better be unemployed than dead !

    • Avatar


      Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 5:56 pm

      So you mean Covid = death? No it isn’t. And that man is just stupid.

  22. Avatar


    Monday, August 10, 2020 at 9:42 pm

    Malaria pills Dr.!!!!
    Study it….it’s been around since 60+ years.
    Tested and tried against early Covid signs…..
    Wake up Doctors!!!!!
    Media Hogwash covers it up and lies to people.

  23. Avatar

    Bobby m

    Monday, August 10, 2020 at 11:34 pm

    Well at least now there will be somebody to blame.

    When it all goes wrong and the Thai economy hits the floor which I think we all know it will happen, unless there is a change in direction Dr Thira Woratanarat is going to become famous for different reasons to Epidemiology. That’s for sure.

  24. Avatar

    Natalia Alekhina

    Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    There aren’t any local cases since June acc. Thai Government. Why, in that case, shall people wear face mask INSIDE the country that has NO covid anymore?

  25. Avatar

    Amy Sukwan

    Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 2:19 am

    My Thai husband had a friend visiting during my video chat session tonight he asked me how things are going with my planned repatriation and how the USA looks in general. I know some people in the USA who have to be tested regularly for Covid-19 for work and I’ve known several people who tested positive while completely asymptomatic (including a few who never got a sick at all). Those people are getting tired and angry. It is absolutely unworkable for a business, school, hospital, nursing home et cetera to shut down for 14 days after every confirmed case and force all the people around them into mandatory testing and quarantine. Health experts who absolutely do not suffer from their recommendations have been given full reign. They get paid and pay for nothing. A big picture view is Thailand painted itself into a corner with it’s no virus obsession and that a second wave is very likely either because they open up borders “officially” OR because things get in through corruption. How long before desperate border patrol agents start taking bribes to let some Laotian boat people go back to their construction site? How long before some of the special guests invited by the Thai government learn to come and go as they please? I’ve been away from my husband for six months and have to walk through a confusing and fast changing mess of money and paperwork to get back. In trying to book an ASQ the representative hung up the phone at 5 different sites as soon as I spoke English. Three said the equivalent of “If you not Thai people or don’t speak Thai cannot” before hanging up. It’s depressing this hell on Earth they’re unleashing…

  26. Avatar


    Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 9:35 am


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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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