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Thai officials mull over testing methods for arrivals following Omicron emergence

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Stock photo by Mufid Majnun for Unsplash

With the emergence of the Omicron variant, just as Thailand was easing travel regulations, the Thai government is mulling over whether to reverse its plan to replace RT-PCR tests with the less accurate, but faster and cheaper antigen tests, or ATK, for arrivals from overseas.

The CCSA held an emergency meeting over the weekend in response to the news of the mutated Covid-19 strain and decided to bar entry to those travelling from 8 countries in Africa. Those travelling from other countries in Africa will need to undergo a 14 day quarantine at a certified hotel or facility.

The Deputy Public Health Minister Satit Pitutacha now says the government is looking into whether to suspend its decision to use rapid antigen tests to screen travellers arriving in Thailand. In its general meeting on Friday chaired by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, the CCSA decided to ease restrictions and, starting December 16, travellers from 63 approved countries would take an antigen test, rather than a PCR test.

Results from the PCR test come back much slower, and travellers have been required to book a night at an approved hotel while they wait for their results. Using the antigen test would allow visitors to travel throughout Thailand just minutes after their results come back.

With the PCR test more accurate than the antigen test, the deputy minister says it would be more effective at preventing the Omicron from spreading in the country.

The CCSA spokesperson, Apisamai Srirangson, also said that the new regulations might be revised due to the global Covid-19 situation.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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