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Phuket immigration offers 30 day extensions for stranded foreigners

Jack Burton

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Phuket immigration offers 30 day extensions for stranded foreigners | The Thaiger
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“Please, any foreigners coming to the Immigration office must wear face masks. If they don’t have one, they will have to go get one first, then we can talk.”

On Wednesday the Sorts and Tourism Minister said that he’d been discussing the problem of overstaying tourists and visitors, due to a lack of flights or border closures in their home countries, with Thailand’s immigration officials. Now some immigration offices are announcing an official ‘clemency’.

In Phuket, foreigners stranded in Thailand due to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak may apply to Phuket Immigration for a 30 day visa extension to avoid the need to travel, thus risking infection and mandatory quarantine if they try and repatriate – the latest information posted in The Phuket News this morning.

The deputy chief of Phuket’s Immigration Department, Udom Thongchin, says that the extensions will be issued both to tourists and foreigners staying on other types of visas.

“It is very difficult for foreigners to leave the country due to the COVID-19 coronavirus situation, and doing so right now risks infection. So we are issuing 30 day extensions in accordance with immigration regulations that allow for such measures during special circumstances, such as an outbreak of disease.”

The extensions will cost the standard 1,900 each. But it’s not quite as simple as all that. Udom said that any foreigners seeking to extend their visas will require a letter from the embassy or consulate of their home country.

“The letter must be from the embassy or consulate requesting that the Royal Thai Police Immigration Bureau allow the foreigner to stay in the country longer. It must name the foreigner and it must have the sentence that the foreigner ‘is unable to travel due to the COVID-19 coronvirus situation.’ It must be an actual letter, hand over with a copy of their passport at the Phuket Immigration Office during office hours.”

Anyone who has already overstayed but has yet to receive such a letter from their embassy can wait until they have the letter in hand.

“Immigration can wait for this.”

Udom confirmed that foreigners are being turned away from the Phuket Immigration Office in Phuket Town if they do not wear a face mask. He pointed out that his immigration officers wear gloves while interacting with foreigners and handling documents at the office.

“Also, we clean the seat and table every time after people use it.”

At this stage there has been no confirmation of a nation-wide roll out of the ‘clemency’ visa extensions for an estimated 500,000 tourists and visitors stranded in Thailand. We will post more information and confirmations as they come to hand.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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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.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Norway adjusts advice after 28 possible vaccine-related deaths of elderly people

The Thaiger

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Norway adjusts advice after 28 possible vaccine-related deaths of elderly people | The Thaiger

The deaths of 23 elderly people are being investigated after dying a short time of receiving their first Covid-19 vaccine in Norway. Apart from the 23 deaths, medical officials are also reporting several people falling ill after receiving their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.

At this stage there has been no direct correlation between the people’s deaths and inoculation wit the Pfizer vaccine, but medical officials report that 13 out of 23 people who died showed “common side effects of mRNA vaccines” such as “diarrhea, nausea and fever”.

mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. To trigger an immune response, many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies. Not mRNA vaccines. Instead, they teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies – cdc.gov

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has taken the action of cautioning against vaccinating elderly people above 80 years of age saying “those with a short life span may not benefit much from the jab”.

“For those with the most severe frailty, even relatively mild vaccine side effects can have serious consequences.”

“The agency listed fever and nausea as side effects which may have led to the deaths of some frail patients.”

Earlier this week, the Public Health authority noted that “any side effects of the vaccine will be outweighed by a reduced risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid-19 for elderly, frail people.”

Steinar Madsen, the medical director of the Norwegian Medicines Agency, says that it may be a coincidence, “but we aren’t sure”.

Pfizer and BioNTech are actively working with the Norwegian authorities to investigate the death.

“The regulator discovered the number of incidents so far is not alarming and in line with expectations.”

But experts are of “the strong opinion” that doctors need to exercise caution in vaccinating people in the wake of the deaths of the 23 elderly people. The Norwegian Medicines Agency also reported that 21 women and 8 men reported side effects. Apart from the 23 deaths, 9 people have reported “serious side effects” without fatal outcomes such as “allergic reactions, strong discomfort and severe fever. Seven people reported less serious side effects such as severe pain at the injection site”.

Norwegian medical staff had administered at least the first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna coronavirus vaccines to approximately 33,000 people as of the end of December.

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Health Minister volunteering to receive first Covid jab, as effectiveness rate questioned

Maya Taylor

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Health Minister volunteering to receive first Covid jab, as effectiveness rate questioned | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

“I’ll go first!”

Thailand’s Public Health Minister has repeated his pledge to be the first person to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, in a bid to allay people’s concerns. Questions have been raised about the Chinese-manufactured Sinovac Biotech jab after its effectiveness rating was revised downwards by researchers in Brazil.

Anutin Charnvirakul says the vaccine process will be overseen by Sophon Mekthon from the Ministry of Public Health and all safety criteria will be met. The Pattaya News reports that the minister says he has confidence in the safety of the vaccine and is willing to prove it by being the first person to get the jab. It’s not the first time he has made this suggestion but there has been no official confirmation that the Health Minister will be first in line.

Thailand has ordered 2 million doses of the vaccine, with the first 200,000 expected to arrive next month. The government has also ordered 26 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine produced by AstraZeneca in partnership with Oxford University but is not expected to take delivery of that vaccine until the middle of the year.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Pattaya City mayor planning local rollout of Covid-19 vaccine

Maya Taylor

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Pattaya City mayor planning local rollout of Covid-19 vaccine | The Thaiger
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The mayor of Pattaya city says officials hope to be able to buy 240,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine for administration to local residents. Sonthaya Khunpluem is reviewing finances and plans to set aside approximately 80 million baht for vaccine procurement, subject to government approval.

“Currently, house registration of Pattaya City has reached a total population of 120,000 people, then we would need about 240,000 shots of the vaccine. If the price of the supplied vaccine was approximately 300 baht, Pattaya would need a budget of at least 72 million baht in order to cover all the residents in the city.”

The move comes following confirmation from the government that local authorities could purchase their own vaccines in order to speed up the process. A number of other local authorities have also said they intend to do the same. The government has stipulated that only vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration can be purchased.

Sonthaya hopes that by vaccinating Pattaya residents, tourism in the area could get a boost and the economic recovery could begin. The Pattaya News reports that officials from the Pattaya City Finance Office and other relevant agencies have met to review projects planned for the year ahead, to determine Pattaya’s spending power for buying vaccines.

It’s understood the vaccine would be offered to local residents for free, but what is not known is if that includes foreign residents. Officials have also not confirmed when the rollout is expected to begin, or which vaccine would be used.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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