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Returning Thais face being turned away if they can’t show “fit-to-fly” health certificate

Jack Burton

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Returning Thais face being turned away if they can’t show “fit-to-fly” health certificate | The Thaiger
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As calls mount for the government to place Thailand under lockdown, many Thais abroad, trying to return home, face being locked out if they cannot show a health certificate, which can be difficult to get in many countries. Thailand’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAAT) announced yesterday that travellers from 11 more countries would be required to present health certificates and proof of insurance before boarding flights to Thailand, beginning today. PM Prayut Chan-o-cha made another announcement last night covering foreigners from all countries.

Newest reports say that all foreign nationals coming to Thailand must show verification of their travel history during the previous 14 days, a health certificate certifying they “pose no risk of being infected by the Covid-19 coronavirus,” issued no more than 72 hours prior to travel, and proof of health insurance that covers Covid-19 treatment and shows minimum medical coverage of US$100,000 (about 3.2 million baht) in Thailand.

Thai nationals seeking to fly home must present a “fit-to-fly” health certificate and a certifying letter from a Thai embassy, Thai consulate office or the Thai Foreign Ministry. But while Thais only need the fit-to-fly certificate and not the Covid-19-free certificate to board, many are finding it difficult to meet even that requirement, especially in Europe. The Thai embassy in London’s Facebook page has received over 1200 comments, mostly complaints and pleas for help.

The mother of a 20 year old student in Plymouth, England said her daughter booked a Thai Airways International flight back to Thailand on March 27.

“What are these requirements for? It’s impossible to get only a health certificate. The requirement for the embassy letter is a double burden. The embassy will not issue the letter unless a health certificate is presented first.”

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry admits that health certificates are unavailable in many European countries and that the issue has been raised at a meeting of state agencies. He says embassies will be in touch to provide help to Thai travellers. It remains unclear what kind of help can be offered, since health services are already overwhelmed.

A Thai diplomat in Europe, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Bangkok Post…

“With measures like this, many Thais will be stranded abroad. In many countries in Europe, medical appointments must be made in advance. For private clinics, also, the patients must be referred by a doctor in a hospital.”

“In this situation, where doctors are busy dealing with Covid-19, nobody will accept appointments for medical check-ups.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Allen

    March 21, 2020 at 4:05 am

    The Thai government don’t think before making rules that in the long term will stop tourist from coming to this country when the virus goes away. I can understand the health certificate but that should apply to those that did not have return flight tickets. Those that did should be allowed but once they return they would be placed in quarantine upon arrive.

    As for the medical coverage, why would anyone need that amount if they have a medical certificate Stating they do not have the virus. Placing such this demand on tourist and not your own people that can afford to leave and travel the world is discriminating. This will haunt Thailand and the only people that will come are those that already have problems in there country such as China and India.

  2. Avatar

    Allen Dog

    March 21, 2020 at 4:07 am

    The Thai government don’t think before making rules that in the long term will stop tourist from coming to this country when the virus goes away. I can understand the health certificate but that should apply to those that did not have return flight tickets. Those that did should be allowed but once they return they would be placed in quarantine upon arrive.

    As for the medical coverage, why would anyone need that amount if they have a medical certificate Stating they do not have the virus. Placing such this demand on tourist and not your own people that can afford to leave and travel the world is discriminating. This will haunt Thailand and the only people that will come are those that already have problems in there country such as China and India.

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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)

Thailand eyes first half of 2021 for production of AstraZeneca vaccine

Maya Taylor

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Thailand eyes first half of 2021 for production of AstraZeneca vaccine | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Lex18

Thailand hopes to begin production and administration of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine during the first 6 months of 2021. As part of a technology-transfer agreement signed by the Thai government, Siam Bioscience will be provided with the information for vaccine production. It then hopes to register the vaccine with Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration within the next 6 months.

The pharmaceutical group hopes to manufacture sufficient doses for Thailand and its ASEAN neighbours during the first half of next year. Nation Thailand reports that the initial plan is to produce 26 million doses for 13 million Thais. It’s understood the company has the means to manufacture 180 – 200 million doses a year, or 15 million a month. Opas Karnkawinpong from Thailand’s Disease Control Department says the country will need around 2 million doses a month, with the rest being exported to neighbouring countries.

Next month, the Vaccine Board is expected to confirm the priority groups who will receive the vaccine first. They are thought to be the elderly and those with underlying conditions, the same categories prioritised for the flu vaccine, and those most at risk of developing serious complications from Covid-19.

Research released this week shows that the AstraZeneca vaccine, developed in conjunction with Oxford University in the UK, has an efficacy rate of 70%, which increases to 90% if it’s administered first as a half-dose, then a full dose. The pharmaceutical giant is now in the process of submitting its results for approval by the Food and Drug Administration, both in the UK and Europe. The company says it wants to be able to distribute the vaccine to the world, at a rate of 3.1 billion doses a year.

Meanwhile, Australian carrier Qantas has confirmed it will require passengers to show proof of vaccination, once international travel resumes.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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No vaccine, no entry – the world’s next travel challenge

The Thaiger

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No vaccine, no entry – the world’s next travel challenge | The Thaiger

OPINION

UPDATE: Australia’s national airline has already said it will impose “proof of vaccine” on all inbound and outbound international flights, a situation that IATA says they are likely to follow. Read more HERE.

ORIGINAL POST: With the announcements this week about several vaccine candidate trials, either being completed or at the end of their Phase 3 testings, and the applications to government bodies for ‘emergency approval’, we now have to face the next question.

What restrictions will be imposed on those people who don’t have the vaccine, or even actively choose not to have the vaccine?

And more locally…

Will Thailand allow people to enter Thailand without first having the Covid-19 vaccine?

Given the Thai Government’s low-risk strategy, well almost zero-risk strategy, and reluctance to take any chances with a second wave of Covid 19, it is highly likely there will be a stipulation that anyone entering Thailand will need a vaccine certificate or stamp in their passports.

Couple this with the Thai population’s continued fear of allowing foreigners back into the country at this time, in poll after poll, and it’s a safe bet there will be a “no vaccine, no entry” restriction imposed.

On a positive note, the Thai government may drop the 14 day quarantine for people that have had the vaccine (but not in the early days).

At this stage we know that most of the vaccine trials have had a 95% efficacy. We also know that the leading BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine needs an original jab plus a booster and has to be transported at extremely low temperature.

To complicate matters, there is not yet sufficient evidence that having had a bout of Covid-19, whether asymptomatic or not, guarantees you immunity. Or, if it does, for how long?

All these factors will mean that some level of quarantine will probably be in force as the Thai government slowly re-opens its borders to a wider groups of vaccinated travellers. This would remain in force until the world has a better knowledge of both the proven efficacy of the vaccine, or vaccines, and the re-infection rates.

So, even if we start getting groups of the world’s populations vaccinated before the end of the year, and that’s still a very big IF, there’s a lot more water to pass under the bridge until a coherent, reliable vaccine strategy can be understood and implemented.

Then there will be a rump of people, either hard core anti-vaxxers, or others who are at least skeptical of a new vaccine, who will want to wait or not want the vaccine at all. Public education, some strong science and a successful roll out of the early vaccines will be a key to winning over a lot of the world’s population.

Somehow governments and health authorities are going to have to wind back much of the disinformation floating around the internet about vaccines that is so factually out of whack with reality, it’s going to be one of the greatest public health challenges of all time, to reassure people about the science of vaccines and vaccination.

All this, in the middle of a pandemic that, for now, is still on the ascendency as far as new cases and deaths are concerned.

But there is little doubt rejoining the world of international travel, even local travel, could become restricted to only those who are vaccinated. The rest will be stuck roaming around their own countries, or states, for… years with a raft of restrictions on their lives. Who knows.

Will shopping centres or public buildings also impose a “no vaccine, no entry” policy? Hotels? Public buildings? Job applications?

On top of the economic stress which has fallen on a lot of the world, with so many governments now facing the headwinds of deep recession, the vaccine ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ will add even more public disquiet.

At this stage nobody is sure how the vaccine will be rolled out in Thailand. The Thai government has already signed up for several of the leading vaccine candidates and will most likely provide the vaccine for free to citizens under its public health system.

What does that mean for foreigners living here? If you are covered, with a work permit, under the country’s public health, are you able to get the vaccine for free too? Will the thousands of foreigners on private health insurance be covered?

Surely the insurers will want its customers to be vaccinated. Sick customers cost them money. So, will insurance renewals be limited to only people who have been vaccinated? Will visas be renewed only if you have been vaccinated?

At this stage there are no firm answers to any of these questions.

Added to all this confusion, there is more than one vaccine, and some of the vaccines work in a different way than others. So do airlines and governments and shops and hotels and bowling alleys allow one vaccine through their doors but not another?

We’re certainly now entering a new phase of this pandemic. New challenges, new questions. The rising numbers of cases throughout 2020 is only the first chapter of a book that will be many more years in the making.

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Thailand may have to wait for US vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna

The Thaiger

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Thailand may have to wait for US vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna | The Thaiger

As news that US may acquire its first shipment of Covid vaccines in mid-December, Thailand may have to wait to share the vaccines as they will likely be made available to the US and Japan first, before the rest of the world. Pfizer and Moderna recently announced their vaccines were about 95% effective, with some countries starting to preorder the vaccines despite shipment challenges that include maintaining a low temperature during transport.

Already, the US and Japan have preordered 300 and 120 million doses respectively, according to Kiat Ruxrungtham, the director of Covid-19 vaccine research and development project of the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University. But Thailand may have other options as Kiat said 11 other pharmaceutical companies are developing the vaccine that could be distributed on a large scale. Out of Thailand’s 7 potential Covid-19 vaccines, 2 have successfully completed the animal testing stage and will proceed to human testing starting in April 2021.

However, Kiat says BioNet-Asia Co’s vaccine may be lagging behind due to the short supply of vaccine precursors, as many have been bought by bigger companies. He adds that a team has been testing Cu-Cov19, an mRNA vaccine, on macaques at Chulalongkorn University’s National Primate Research Centre in Saraburi with BioNet-Asia being the centre’s partner.

He said the project does not had sufficient funding from the government, but the state is finding ways to preorder vaccines from Covax, a company working with the World Health Organization and cooperating with AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

Today, Thailand’s CCSA reports 2 new imported cases of Covid, 1 of which is a 5 month old Indian baby girl, bringing the total number of cases to 3,922 with 0 new deaths. The Centre for Covid Situation Administration reported that the girl arrived on November 11 on the same flight as 2 previously confirmed cases. The baby tested positive 5 days later, while displaying symptoms such as a fever and vomitting.

 

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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