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Thai Health Minister to chair panel on travel bubbles, vaccine passports

Maya Taylor

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Thai Health Minister to chair panel on travel bubbles, vaccine passports | Thaiger
PHOTO: Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Thailand’s Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, will chair a meeting on Monday, in which a vaccine passport scheme and potential travel bubbles will be discussed. Anutin says those who’ve been inoculated against Covid-19 will be issued with a book to confirm their vaccination. It’s hoped this will make international travel easier, as well as boosting the public’s confidence and helping life return to some kind of normality.

“The Public Health Ministry is making preparations to bring life back to normal, restore businesses and revive the Thai economy.”

A number of groups and industry representatives have added their voices to growing calls for a vaccine passport policy. The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking is urging the government to implement the scheme without further delay, while also calling for private companies in Thailand to be allowed purchase and distribute vaccines.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand is also pushing for a vaccine passport policy, while the Tourism Ministry has urged the Health Ministry to approve one. Meanwhile the PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha has asked the Foreign Ministry to carry out a study on vaccine passports, adding that the jury is still out as to their effectiveness. They also have their critics, primarily among rights’ groups and doctors, who argue that there is not yet enough evidence that vaccination prevents transmission.

At Monday’s meeting of the National Communicable Diseases Committee, the Anutin-led panel will also discuss the idea of travel bubbles. Thailand has been considering entering into reciprocal travel arrangements with countries with a high take-up of Covid-19 vaccines.

Meanwhile, Anutin says the public must continue with the practice of mask-wearing, noting that the number of Thais doing so has recently slipped. He says that recent data shows the number of people wearing masks has dropped below 80%, compared to 90% last month.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Andy W

    Friday, March 5, 2021 at 12:14 pm

    This should have taken place at least 3 months ago and a draft/provisional plan agreed (obviously subject to vaccine etc data).

  2. Avatar

    Billy Barty

    Friday, March 5, 2021 at 12:53 pm

    I have a feeling the vaccine passport will happen.
    The travel bubbles scheme, on the other hand, will only work for a small percentage of travelers: like .008%

    Thailand is like teflon. It always recovers. I was there for the coups, floods, yellow shirts, and red shirts. Being one of the world’s most popular destinations, the tourism will make a remarkably fast recovery once the government makes a commitment to open. Closed businesses will reopen. Hotels will swiftly start up again.

    I never could understand commenters (and articles here) that predict years for for the tourism to recover. Nonsense!

    Disclosure: I am in the hotel biz.

  3. Avatar

    Rick

    Friday, March 5, 2021 at 4:12 pm

    Not only is there no evidence that these “vaccines” prevent transmission (or infection) all of them are still in the testing phase and they are still experimental. Not to mention that the mRNA “vaccines” are not vaccines at all as they are an experimental gene therapy and they are not vaccines by definition.
    And might I suggest that before any studies are intiated on whether these “vaccines” prevent transmission, how about an honest study on whether the “virus” even exists at all as that is still in doubt. What an amazing clown world we now live in!

  4. Avatar

    EdwardV

    Friday, March 5, 2021 at 4:45 pm

    Sounds promising,. I’m thinking Thailand will agree to a vaccine passport and allowing vaccinated tourists to return without a long quarantine. Maybe without a quarantine at all. It’s just a question of when. I do wonder why they are pressing so hard to open in July. It’s low season and they could just push it off to October without much loss. Would give them some more time to vaccinate the population. I’m thinking the economy is in much worse shape than they are letting on.

  5. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Friday, March 5, 2021 at 5:25 pm

    I think any recovery this time will be different.
    All the hotel lost deposits. All the lost flights with no refunds.
    All the business persons who could not return unless they went through an expensive quarantine.
    All the banned flights OUT.
    All the unnecessary bans, such as no walking on the beach!
    Curfews. No drinking.
    And then do people want to spend money in a country where students are jailed fro protesting, and for objecting to the king!
    The world has seen the real face of the Thai now, and it is not smiling.

  6. Avatar

    per_fect

    Friday, March 5, 2021 at 7:27 pm

    The problem now is not if/when the quarantine will be removed. It’s a matter of trust and I wouldnt travel half way over the world to let these dudes dictate and change the rules. Simply put they have shown how fragile they are, it’s basically to risky to go. And on top of this they use force against everyone, kind of like “if you don´t agree with us we will make sure to punish you!” For now they are offering nothing but beaches and sunshine, it can be found in numerous places.

    I would like to go back, but I wont as long as those clowns tries to run the show.

  7. Avatar

    Ben

    Friday, March 5, 2021 at 8:38 pm

    The Health Ministry is the key entity to opening up the country without quarantine. If they go along with the Tourism lobbyists and open too soon, and the virus enters and spreads like wildfire, then they’ll have egg on their faces. That’s not going to happen.

    Let’s hope the scientists show results the vaccinated don’t spread the virus. That’ll be the quickest route to reopening. If not then when most of the population is vaccinated.

    I recently listed the reasons I go to Thailand and all are still valid. Billy Barty is right. Rick is in denial – just ask the 2.6 million people that have died. Oh you can’t because they’re dead. I’ve finished getting my 2 jabs and will resume life by going to Thailand next week.

  8. Avatar

    James R

    Friday, March 5, 2021 at 10:58 pm

    But will people want to go to Thailand on holiday?

    In England for instance we have had 20 million people vaccinated so far including me and my family, and the rate is increasing, currently 400,000 a day are being vaccinated and within a few months we will all (well all sensible people) will have had the jab.

    But the question is as we all know, the virus can mutate and so if it is still around in Thailand then it can mutate and we the vaccinated would be able to catch the new strain so why would we want to go to a country with no mass vaccination plan in place?

    I am not talking about a few thousand supplies here and there, it needs to be in the tens of millions.

  9. Avatar

    Ian

    Saturday, March 6, 2021 at 1:55 am

    Ben they already have egg in third faces and blood on thier hands don’t sit on the fence you usually do, be brave you supposedly live in the land of the brave so don’t give in to this dictatorship if we are vaccined and given a test on departure and entry we should be ok we are gonna be ok don’t worry I know Your old but you’ll be ok we are all responsible and want the best for Thailand even if the dictatorship doesn’t

  10. Avatar

    TC

    Saturday, March 6, 2021 at 7:07 am

    Billy, Rick is on the money. If they genuinely believe this flu is as big a concern as they have been telling us there will be no vaccine based travel.
    The vaccine is still experimental and will be for at least 12 months. Then there are other variants of the virus.
    The smart countries like Sweden and some states in the US will just get on with life. The majority will not as time is showing just how incompetent most world leaders are today.
    If a bubble does develop clearly it will feature only the Asean “friends”. This is actually hilarious as most Thais I encounter hate the Chinese, who gifted us a world crisis, and the Indians. Not sure the Koreans feature much higher but the Thia Govt appears convinced none of its friends are sex tourists. 5555.

  11. Avatar

    Andy W

    Saturday, March 6, 2021 at 2:24 pm

    TC, there are a few Thai-chinese that love Chinese tourists because they make a fortune from them.
    Although it’s true that most Thais (even most of those employed in the tourist business) don’t earn a baht from them and dislike them immensely.
    But those Thai-chinese have a lot of influence over the decision makers.

  12. Avatar

    Ben

    Saturday, March 6, 2021 at 9:14 pm

    Ian, when I go to Thailand I’m a guest. I follow their laws and don’t get involved in their politics. It’s their country to run. If it bothers me enough I just don’t go.

    Most tourists destinations don’t really like the tourists that show up. They like the money they spend.

    The Chinese think they’re the best. The Americans think they’re the best. The western Europeans think they’re the best. The Japanese think they’re the best. Guess what? The Thai’s think they’re the best too. Anytime a foreigner comes into your country, with an air of arrogance, they’re not well received. But they’re received, with reluctance, if they have a lot of money to spend.

  13. Avatar

    MARK GOODYEAR

    Saturday, March 6, 2021 at 9:19 pm

    ANUTIN…. Now here’s the definition of a ‘forehead trombone’ if there ever was one!! or, put another way…”an’ out an’ out CUNT!’

  14. Avatar

    EdwardV

    Saturday, March 6, 2021 at 10:56 pm

    Ben, to be fair even the Chinese don’t like Chinese tourists. At least that was the way it was explained to me by my Chinese tour guide while in China.

  15. Avatar

    Clive goodwin

    Sunday, March 7, 2021 at 9:44 pm

    You can stick the vaccine passport. Make sure there’s loads of pages in it. They’ll be wanting you to take your poison at least a couple of times each year. Based on what I’ve researched, I suspect the grand plan Is population control. Especially the African and Latino populations. Gates funded schemes have already tried this in Africa With the renamed Fadella contraceptive implant. So successful that 50,000 women are pursuing compensation.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Grim milestone: 3 million Covid-19 deaths worldwide

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Grim milestone: 3 million Covid-19 deaths worldwide | Thaiger
PHOTO: 3 million Covid-19 deaths recorded around the world.

Today marks a grim milestone as the Covid-19 pandemic officially crosses 3 million deaths around the world, with outbreaks still surging in various parts of the world. Over a year into the pandemic, and we are currently seeing over 700,000 new infections and 12,000 deaths per day, with Brazil, India, and France facing growing crises.

The 3 million figure reflects official numbers, though many suspect that real totals could be much higher, pointing at government conspiracies and early deaths that were not attributed to Covid-19 when little was known about the novel coronavirus in the early days.

Still, the official number is overwhelming enough – equal to the population of Kyiv, Ukraine, or the state of Arkansas in the US, and larger than world cities like Lisbon, Caracas, Dubai, Manchester or Chicago. Imagine nearly one-third of the people in Bangkok wiped out, or the entire nation of Armenia or Jamaica.

Following a steep decline in both new infections and deaths at the start of this year, the graph is again in an upward trajectory, both in terms of new cases and deaths from Covid.

Grim milestone: 3 million Covid-19 deaths worldwide | News by ThaigerThe World Health Organisation laments the dire condition of the world dealing with the pandemic after 16 months and so many opportunities to prevent the spread with basic safety precautions. Brazil has spiralled out of control, racking up 3,000 deaths a day, nearly 25% of all the Covid-19 deaths in the world in the past few weeks. New variants have been spreading like wildfire throughout Brazil as more dangerous strains have wriggled their way into countries around the world.

In India, the distribution of vaccines has been thwarted by swelling Covid-19 outbreaks and deaths. In New Dehli, 13,000 infections were reported in a day amongst the 29 million residents, but the city only has 178 ventilators available as of Wednesday.

Only 1.1% of the Indian populations has been vaccinated, and officials faced criticism of their vaccine exports while so many need jabs domestically. In Thailand, the percentage of people vaccinated is even lower.

700 million vaccines have been distributed worldwide, but they have been shipped disproportionately to the wealthier populations throughout the world. In rich countries, 1 in 4 people have been vaccinated, while in poor countries that number is less than 1 in 500. In fact, 87% of the vaccines distributed worldwide have been to wealthy nations, and the delays in India due to increasing Covid-19 deaths will not help close that gap for many months to come.

SOURCE: Sky

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Thai Hotel Association pushes “hospitels” – hotels as hospitals

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Thai Hotel Association pushes “hospitels” – hotels as hospitals | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Artist rendering of a "hospitel" - a hotel converted to a hospital.

With the third wave of Covid-19 ripping through Thailand, hospitals are rapidly filling up and the Thai Hotels Association has proposed “hospitels” as a creative solution. The portmanteau of “hospital” and “hotel” is the THA’s brainchild for creating more space for the growing number of Covid-19 infections that require treatment or at least observation as Thailand hits record daily case numbers. The idea of turning hotels into temporary hospitals was promoted by association president Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi this week.

“The move aims to reduce crowdedness at hospitals and promote continuous care for Covid-19 patients after new cases increased rapidly since late March.”

23 hotels have already registered to be hospitals, with 2,000 patients currently receiving treatment in the 4,900 available beds. The Ministry of Public Health laid out guidelines for hotels interested in participating. Hotels must have a minimum of 30 rooms and pass the alternative state quarantine evaluation. The ASQ-approved properties must have evidence of acknowledgement by the surrounding community to confirm their validity and eligibility. The hotel must be able and willing to take care of hospitalised patients for 5 to 7 days, even with no signs of symptom progression. Conversely, patients checking in must agree to stay in the hotel and be relatively self-sufficient.

Strict medical requirements must be met as well. Each patient must be provided with their own digital thermometer and pulse oximeter, and a portable x-ray machine must be available. The hotels must be staffed like hospitals, with at least one doctor, a clinical psychologist, a pharmacist, a radiologist, and an infection control nurse. There must also be one nurse per every 20 patients staying at the property.

This proposed solution might provide a welcomed supplement to the rudimentary field hospitals the Thai army has been hastily building to accommodate the influx of newly infected patients. While the quick work is commendable, some have hypothesized that at-risk foreigners may be ignoring calls to come forward for Covid-19 testing in part because being diagnosed may land them in these less-than-posh field hospitals for days on end. A more comfortable “hospitel” would allow infected foreigners to be treated in more pleasant surroundings thus encouraging them to come forward for testing.

SOURCE: National News Bureau and Nation Thailand

 

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Bangkok is now a red zone. Government gives people today to get back from Songkran break.

Tim Newton

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Bangkok is now a red zone. Government gives people today to get back from Songkran break. | Thaiger

…. before the next round of restrictions come into force at midnight tonight.

Bangkok and 17 other Thai provinces (there are 77 in total) are now declared maximum control areas. These “red zones” are the feature of the Thai Government’s new restrictions to get a grip on its rising Covid infection numbers since the start of April. The restrictions will last for at least 14 days.

From tonight, at midnight, some new restrictions are in force, not only in the red zones but every where else.

Think nightlife, think gatherings of more than 50 people, think restaurants. These are the area the government has generally targeted. The CCSA spokesperson yesterday, and the Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, went out of their way to portray the new restrictions as NOT curfews and NOT lockdowns. But, if you live in a red zone province, including Bangkok, then the new set of restrictions are a lockdown in just about every sense without outright telling people to stay at home.

Everything will have to be closed from 11pm – 4am in the morning, including all convenience stores. Hope you’ve paid your Netflix subscription!

The government is also advising businesses in Bangkok, and other red zone provinces, to allow employees to work from home, or have adequate precautions in place if they need to work in the offices.

Unlike the last two outbreaks of Covid within Thailand, this cluster has emerged from the indulgences of Bangkok’s hi-sos, celebrity and look-at-me culture. The trendy clubs around Thong Lor and Ekkamai are the destination for people that want, or need, to be seen, including some politicians who have either ended up infected or knew someone in the club and pub scene and have had to self-isolate.

The late evening sojourns, with nary a care for masks or social distancing, small spaces, lots of people… it has proven the perfect breeding ground for a new Covid cluster.

Bangkok’s legendary shopping centres and community malls will have to shut their doors by 9pm, a situation now across the board for all Thai shopping centres including places like your local Tesco mall.

But convenience stores, supermarkets, community markets can stay open until 11pm.

At this stage people are being advised not to travel to Bangkok, or any other red zone province, for the next 2 week (after midnight tonight). The travel advisory isn’t an order at this stage, more of a hurry-up-and-get-back-from-your-holidays request.

Last weekend saw the mass exodus out of the city. The same return from the provinces is happening today and tomorrow. Even though the official Songkran holiday ran from Tuesday to Thursday this week, plenty of people have take the Mondays and Friday off last week to end up with an extended 9 day holiday. The government was hoping the longer Songkran break would be a boon for the shattered hospitality and tourism businesses. But last weekends sudden climb of new Covid infections caused some people to cancel or postpone their bookings.

The annual Songkran road toll, usually a national disgrace, was cut by over 50% this year due to the lack of traffic and people deciding to wait it out and catch up with their families later.

Thailand recorded 1,547 new infections around Thailand today, a slight drop from yesterdays’ 1,585 reported new cases. But the last 4 days have revealed the largest list of daily infections since the first case was detected in Thailand on January 13 last year, a 61 year old Chinese passenger on a flight from Wuhan to Suvarnabhumi – the first known case of the novel coronavirus outside of China.

2 leading police from the Thong Lor police station have already been sidelined into inactive posts, a face-saving measure to show the government were being pro-active in reacting to the sloppy enforcement (or non-existent enforcement) of Covid precautions in the district’s active nightlife. Officials are also tracking down the owners of the nightclubs and bars for potential prosecution, principally around Bangkok and in Phuket where parties, promoted and run by a group called ‘Kolour’ ended up becoming Covid spreader events.

Here’s a list of the red zone provinces.

1. Bangkok
2. Chiang Mai
3. Chon Buri
4. Samut Prakan
5. Prachuap Khiri Kan
6. Samut Sakhon
7. Pathum Thani
8. Nakhon Pathom
9. Phuket
10. Nakhon Ratchasima
11. Nonthaburi
12. Songkhla
13. Tak
14. Udon Thani
15. Suphanburi
16. Sa Kaeo
17. Rayong
18. Khon Kaen

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