Thailand prepares measures to prevent influx of Covid-19 cases from China

As China prepares to open the floodgates on Sunday, Thai government officials are discussing measures to prevent Covid-19 outbreaks from the upcoming influx of Chinese tourists, given the prevalence of the virus in the People’s Republic of China at present.

The virus spread rapidly in China after Beijing dropped three-year-long stringent Covid measures last month. Then, Beijing dropped mandatory quarantine on arrival and announced the reopening of the borders on Sunday, January 8, spurring budding Chinese travellers to book trips abroad.

Measures to protect Thailand from imported coronavirus cases from China will be finalised in a meeting tomorrow between officials from the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, and the Ministry of Transport, said Public Health Minister, Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.

Thailand expects five million Chinese tourists to arrive in the kingdom this year which will be vital to Thailand’s post-pandemic economic recovery.

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“We expect some 300,000 Chinese tourists to come in the first quarter of this year,” said Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand Yuthasak Supasorn.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said yesterday that Thailand will not implement a lockdown or “strict regulations” in response to the easing of travel restrictions in China.

The ministry said that there is no need to test Chinese arrivals for the virus. China requires anyone travelling out of the country to obtain a negative RT-PCR test result prior within 48 hours of their departure.

At the meeting tomorrow, government officials are expected to discuss vaccine requirements for Chinese tourists. According to Komchadluek, vaccine documents will be checked and the ministry will propose that Chinese tourists should have received at least four doses of the Covid vaccination.

Measures are subject to change in relation to Covid-19 caseload data and developments in China, added the ministry.

Anutin stressed that the ministry cannot guarantee any resurgence of the virus when Chinese tourists return, so Thai people should continue taking measures to protect themselves e.g., by getting vaccinated, social distancing and wearing masks.

The health minister praised Thailand for its ability to handle the virus…

“Thailand is able to effectively control the spread of the virus, illness, and deaths better than other countries. Thailand’s healthcare system is not inferior to anyone else’s, and when compared to other countries with higher infection and death rates, we are holding up well.”

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha assured Thai people not to panic about the return of Chinese tourists, “because Thailand’s preventative measures and healthcare system are top-notch.”

Meanwhile, the US, India, Japan, South Korea and some European countries announced tougher Covid-19 measures specific to Chinese arrivals amid fears of outbreaks and new variants.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.