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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thailand’s covid vaccine passport – will it only be used for travel?

Tim Newton

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Hi. Im Tim Newton. Just upfront saying that these are my personal opinions and don’t necessarily reflect that of The Thaiger.

So today the Thai Government now has officially announced vaccine passports. The documents are going to be the next big thing in the long and winding Covid road. Firstly, before some comments, the details that we actually know.

This Covid passport legislation has now been announced in the Royal Gazette, so it’s not being considered, it’s actually law. According to media info, the vaccine passport will be an official document which can be used by vaccinated people travelling abroad.

I fear this Covid passport will end up as just another victim of the unintended consequences. The benefits, mostly intended for international travellers, will be used as another way of whittling away our remaining privacies and adding another layer of little annoyances to life and work in the Land of Smiles.

Look at the vaccine roll out in Thailand. Usually a business should try and under-promise and then over deliver. In this case the Thai government have done the exact opposite. Timelines for vaccination are not being met and the ordering of vaccines appears chaotic and, at best, just slow in getting to the startline.

The PM has rushed to assure the citizenry that the delays have been caused by an abundance of caution. And unfortunately the 2 horses they’ve backed in the vaccination race are having a few bad PR days and neither may be a long term solution to the latest variants of Covid-19 spreading around Thailand. But I’ll let the scientists sort that out… certainly not the legion of instant vaccine experts that have now infected the internet.

I’m all for trying to get the country open again, as soon as practicable, and safe to do so. But I’m starting to think the best course of action is to lock my gate and resort to an online worklife and Food Panda… the mad foreign guy locked up in his house with his 3 cats.

Here in Phuket we now have an arrival regime that demands either proof of vaccine, a negative Covid test, or a 300 baht rapid Covid test at the airport. The chances of me subjecting myself to an airport officials sticking a swap up my admittedly large nose in the vague hope it will probably come back negative, is zero. Again, on a daily basis we get emails from foreigners who say they’ve been whisked away to hospitals, and more recently field hospitals, with no recourse or means of appeal, or even the chance to get a second test.

Here’s one from this morning…

I can’t call the embassy as I don’t have a SIM card, I also have been told to order outside food as they won’t feed me. They won’t provide me with my test results and told me that I’d need to stay 14 days here in quarantine, but the doctor I talked with yesterday said 5 more days. I’m so confused as to what to do next.

Now, stripping all this back to basics, I’ll concede that we’re all in this mess together at the moment, and that we may have to forego a few personal freedoms for the greater good. I have no issue wearing a mask in public. I have no worries leaving my phone number at the door when entering premises. I will do my best to stay socially distant when in public.

But all these restrictions are easy to ramp up and much harder to wind back. And, at a deeper level, our trust in institutions, governments, and medical officials is being eroded. And that’s not good as we stumble forward in trying to get the world open again.

Will I get a vaccine passport? Probably. And I’ll also expect to have to carry it everywhere I go as it’s used as just another reminder that I’m just a guest in this country and I better just get used to it.

 

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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Avatar

    J West

    Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 10:24 am

    If there’s no vaccine for foreign residents, how do we aquire a immunization passport? Am I missing something?

    • Thaiger

      Thaiger

      Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 10:27 am

      The only thing you’re missing is access to a vaccine as a foreigner in Thailand.

  2. Avatar

    GioTraveler

    Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 10:29 am

    You managed to wander far from the topic of vaccine passports and – somewhat ironically – barely touched on it but you seem to be generally opposed to the idea. Unless you plan on being a recluse it will be required for international travel and perhaps, on occasion, locally. It’s not exactly a burden – just another piece of paper or app. It’s difficult to understand why people like you seem to think it’s an affront to carry proof of vaccination. You already have – and show as needed – a passport, a driver’s license, proof of auto/motorbike insurance, medical history, work history via resume or CV, etc. so what’s the big deal about one more document? As for your writing, you might consider trying to focus on the topic at hand instead of bouncing from mini-rant to mini-rant. And three cats? Really? That’s borderline crazy-cat-woman status. Good luck with that.

  3. Avatar

    GioTraveler

    Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 10:33 am

    @J West – Eventually vaccines will be available for farang at the private hospitals along with the passport (likely Sept / Oct). If you don’t want to wait you can always go home … there are flights leaving BKK everyday.

  4. Avatar

    Ted

    Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 12:11 pm

    You summed it up pretty well, Tim

  5. Avatar

    7.62mm of darwin

    Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 12:54 pm

    is there any chance of escape from los to your home country. Not if you are from oz if you are then pay up and suck it up.

  6. Avatar

    Big Al

    Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 1:01 pm

    Great Bit Of Fact Tim, Keep dealing up the GOOD OIL. Good luck Thailand

  7. Avatar

    Ray

    Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 2:49 pm

    There’s been a lot of talk about international accepted vaccine passports around the world. When it actually will see the light of day (and I hope it does soon), it certainly won’t look as the piece of paper shown in the video. That could only function inside LOS under the condition that there will be hefty fines and punishments for fakes. However, a generally accepted international vaccine passport must have the same security features as a citizen’s passport. That makes it a daunting task to realize. You simply can’t compare this to the existing papers showing proof of vaccination for tetanus, hepatitis etc. With Covid-19 there’s much more at stake than your personal health alone.

  8. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 3:24 pm

    “If there’s no vaccine for foreign residents, how do we aquire a immunization passport? Am I missing something?”

    You’re missing the countless times the government have said that there will be “Covid Vaccinations for Everyone in Thailand” – but obviously you’re not the only one!

    Try putting that into a google search – “Vaccinations will include expatriates and migrant workers. The government intends to offer equal protection”.

    How many times do we need to be told???

    • Thaiger

      Thaiger

      Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 4:46 pm

      It won’t happen, unless foreigners pay for it OR are on the social security list. Let’s see who’s right.

  9. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 3:29 pm

    Just goes to show, @Thaiger, don’t believe wjingeing e-mails.

    No sim card so he can’t contact the embassy or order food, but he can still contact you?

  10. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 3:39 pm

    I think you’re missing why it’s “law” and “announced in the Royal Gazette”.

    That doesn’t mean everyone will have to carry it – as only 6 people are allowed to sign it, if it only took 10 seconds to sign each “passport” it would take 15 years for them to sign enough for everyone.

    It just makes it an offence to forge it, as it’s now an official document. That’s all it does.

  11. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 7:37 pm

    “It won’t happen, unless foreigners pay for it OR are on the social security list. Let’s see who’s right”

    No need to wait to see who’s right, Tim.

    It’s ALREADY happened for some working in Phuket, which you’ve reported, and for some who aren’t working but got off their backsides instead of whingeing and registered.

  12. Avatar

    David Rucker

    Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 9:33 pm

    @Ted – I’m worried about only 6 officials being able to sign a passport. IATA has a travel passport now used by many UAE countries and Singapore. The Thai version seems to be easily counterfeited. This is an issue that lends itself to bitchain technology. How does a airline gate attendant in a foreign country verify validity of offered vaccine passport? On another note, I’m confused with lawfully approved methods of dealing with failed test results. My reading on these tests indicate their validity are far from 100% reliable. As a farang, if I fail airport test, where do they legally take me and what measures am I being forced to comply? Keep up the good reporting.

  13. Avatar

    Daniel

    Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 10:52 pm

    All this is quite messy: as far as I know, the vaccine only prevents you to die.
    But you can catch the virus again and again and spread even with 7 vaccines.
    So, what??? I don’t understand anything of this mess.
    By the way: if you have already passed the virus… Would you get the certificate?

  14. Avatar

    David

    Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 11:31 pm

    only solution to stop lockdowns is, to get a vaccine ?

    from big vaccine companies ( medicine = to treat symptoms and not find the cause ).
    and government with news which will help to deliver it around the country ??

    ( almost all people in the world, not trust the government,
    most are not interested in news, at least not “believe” much of it and
    government not really take care of health and poverty for decades + ).

    billions usd of tax money, goes to banks, military and pharma-medicine, yearly.
    ( keeps you in, debt, war .. see terror and unhealthy.
    worse saying, my doctor is a great doctor, “for years” ), any questions ?

  15. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Friday, April 23, 2021 at 4:04 am

    “The Thai version seems to be easily counterfeited. … How does a airline gate attendant in a foreign country verify validity of offered vaccine passport?”

    Reportedly UK immigration do no verification checks on any “vaccine passports” as it’s not possible but they catch over 100 forged every day just by the spelling mistakes.

  16. Avatar

    Crispy

    Friday, April 23, 2021 at 12:00 pm

    “certainly not the legion of instant vaccine experts that have now infected the internet.”
    These are your readers you’re talking about, they are trying to understand and together make sense of this mess. Show a little respect would you mate.

  17. Avatar

    Crispy

    Friday, April 23, 2021 at 12:08 pm

    The vaccine is important as it fortifies the immune system. Means the individual can fight off the virus or a least dial down its ravages.
    It doesn’t stop there – the vaccine also build resistance within the community. It means so many people are wearing “No Entry” signs that the virus has no way through. That’s “herd immunity” and it protects everyone, vaccinated and non-vaccinated alike … even refuseniks.
    But vaccination isn’t enough on its own.
    Thailand needs test-trace-isolate-treat. To get ahead of the game. Jump on the slightest case of Corona and rip out the vein of infected.
    If everyone plays the game – including mask, hygiene, space – the people will be saved and repair the damage done and the economy can re-open.

  18. Avatar

    Covid1984

    Friday, April 23, 2021 at 7:57 pm

    To understand whats comming, we can look at ground 0 of this plandemic, Israel. You need green passport in Israel to go on bus, gym, cinema, malls, shops, u need it to buy Mc Donald. U need it to work. Its total tyrany and tool of control, as well it dosent make sense cuz vaccinated still can get infected and spread it.

  19. Avatar

    Karl

    Sunday, May 2, 2021 at 8:38 am

    This is nothing new.

    If you are coming from i.e. East Africa you will have to proof a yellow fever vaccination before entering Thailand. This is done normally by the yellow booklet International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis.

  20. Avatar

    Farang

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 7:23 am

    To the people saying “this is nothing new”, yes, yes it is something new. It’s something completely new. I have never had to walk around with papers saying if someone has jabbed me or not. I do however remember a country doing this in the 40’s I think it started with Germany.

  21. Avatar

    Farang

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 7:29 am

    To the people saying “this is nothing new”, yes, yes it is something new. It’s something completely new. I have never had to walk around with papers saying if someone has jabbed me or not with a vax that is experimental. I do however remember a country doing this in the 40’s I think it started with Germany.

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Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Phuket. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,900 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 450 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and is now the General Manager and writer for The Thaiger. He's reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket red zone list adds Krabi, Trang, Ranong, Phatthalung

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: The Phuket checkpoint now lists 25 provinces as a red zone.

Visitors to Phuket from Krabi, Trang, Ranong, and Phatthalung will now have to prove they’re vaccinated or have a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of arrival, as they’ve been added to the red zone province list. People entering without those qualifications will have to take a rapid antigen test on the spot before being allowed into Phuket.

The 4 provinces join a group of 21 other provinces already on the Phuket red zone list requiring strict measures to enter. That list even includes Phuket itself, as people do exit the province have to prove a negative test or vaccination before being allowed to re-enter.

Phuket’s vice governor made the announcement yesterday after the governor signed the order and put it into effect until at least May 15th. That same order requires all trucks transporting goods to travel from 11 pm to 5 am, the nighttime hours that other people are not allowed to enter the island. Phuket recently closed its entry checkpoints from late night to early morning after reports of exhaustion from the health officials working to test everyone or verify their credentials.

Delivery drivers will also have to pass the same requirements as red zone province arrivals before entering Phuket. Any driver who does not have a negative test within 72 hours or proof that they’ve received both doses of a vaccine approved by Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration, will be forced to wait until the regular checkpoint opens at 5 am to receive a rapid antigen test.

Over 40,000 people from red zones have now been tested at the checkpoint to enter Phuket. In the first week of the requirement which began on April 22, health officials tested more than 22,000 people, overwhelming staff and prompting the government to close the entrance from 11 pm to 5 am to give checkpoint workers a break.

The 25 provinces currently classified as a red zone for entering Phuket are as follows:

Bangkok Nakhon Pathom Pathum Thani Rayong Suphan Buri
Chiang Mai Nakhon Ratchasima Phatthalung Sa Kaeo Surat Thani
Chonburi Nakhon Sri Thammarat Phuket Samut Prakan Tak
Khon Kaen Narathiwat Prachuap Khiri Khan Samut Sakhon Trang
Krabi Nonthaburi Ranong Songkhla Udon Thani

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

BMA admits Covid virus spreading fast in Bangkok, speeds up testing and jabs

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Stock photo via Flickr

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration says it is speeding up mass Covid-19 testing and inoculations in communities hit strongly by the virus, after admitting the virus is spreading fast in Thailand’s capital.

The city clerk says the administration, along with the Public Health Ministry and other agencies, are speeding up the collection of nasal swabs for Covid-19 tests, with a plan to test 3,000 people in high-risk groups per day. Those people deemed to be at an increased risk of the virus have been clustered by districts, with testing units in each of the 6 districts…

Laksi district, 70 Pansa Min Buri park in Min Buri district, Huai Khwang stadium in Huai Khwang district, under the Rama III expressway in Yannawa district, a public park under Rama VIII bridge in Bang Phlad district and The Mall Bangkae shopping centre in Bang Kae district.

The virus has been found in densely populated, low-income areas such as the Klong Toey community in Klong Toey district, Bon Kai community in Pathumwan district and Ban Khing community and The Mall Bangkae in Bang Kae district. In an effort to help those residents stay at home to prevent the possible spreading of the coronavirus, community-level organisations are teaming up to provide food, water, and supplements to those in the areas.

But stay at home orders are a problem for many as starvation is more frightening than the virus and 90% of residents in the slum communities still need to leave for work each day to keep food on the table. The daily average income for those in the slums is around 120 to 150 baht. The CCSA yesterday declared that is is focusing on containing major Covid clusters in 3 key Bangkok communities – the Klong Toey ‘slums’, Bon Kai in Pathumwan and Ban Khing in the Bang Kae district, on the west side of the Chao Phraya.

Today’s nationwide Covid update includes compiling the regional totals from yesterday, with a total of 27 new Covid-related deaths and 2,044 new Covid-19 infections over the past 24 hours. The numbers continue a statistically consistent rise in the number of Covid infections over the past 2 weeks.

Meanwhile, talking about Phuket’s plans to open in July, the Tourism and Sports Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, said yesterday that the number of new cases on the island must reach zero before the government can contemplate the ‘Sandbox’ plan for no-quarantine travel.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket visitor Covid-19 rapid antigen testing may end May 15

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Covid-19 rapid tests may be discontinued in Phuket. (via Wikimedia)

In a live broadcast, Phuket’s Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong said officials will consider discontinuing Covid-19 rapid antigen testing for people arriving into Phuket after May 15. The interview from the Phuket Check Point at Tha Chatchai yesterday seems to contradict a recent statement from the governor launching additional rapid testing from today.

Entry to Phuket since April 22 has been limited for travellers from red zone provinces, requiring proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test within the last 72 hours. Anyone arriving without either of these would be screened on the spot with rapid antigen tests. Though originally offered for 300 baht per person, controversy arose over Thailand’s 2-tier pricing as it was announced that testing would be free for Thai people and 500 baht for foreigners.

The National Health Security Office provided 40 billion baht for testing in Phuket, allowing free testing for nationals, but as that funding is used up, Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew announced that the testing will no longer be free for Thai people after May 15. Phuket does not have the budget for free rapid antigen testing so they will likely be forced to require payment after that date.

The current testing has seen a decline in positive Covid-19 infections, not finding any new cases for several days, prompting the government to rethink whether the current system of rapid testing those who are not vaccinated or holding a recent negative test certificate is worth the money spent.

Over 40,000 people have been tested since the program began April 22 until the current figures on May 5, with only 22 covid infections identified. Furthermore, 5 of those infections turned out to be false positives.

The vice-governor conceded that Phuket has Covid-19 outbreak problems with growing infections every day, but explains that the infections are from within the community and not from outside visitors. The latest infections stem in large part from gambling get-togethers without proper Covid-19 safety.

As of now, the rapid antigen testing will continue until the May 15 cut off, but government officials are still debating whether to continue testing and whether funding will exist for it after that date.

The NHSO has recently hinted that they will approve more funds to continue testing, a signal that had not been received before the governor’s announcement on Wednesday about the rapid antigen testing.

The vice-governor stressed that the situation is constantly evolving and that new information it’s shared frequently, and often out of local control. He urges everyone to pay attention to forthcoming announcements.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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