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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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PHOTO - SCMP

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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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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