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The Thai tourism new normal, learning to live with the pandemic

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OPINION

by Julian Spindler

Thailand’s world-class tourism industry, one of the twin drivers of our economy, is in a deep, coronavirus-induced coma, close to death.

No life support is currently available. Pandemic paranoia has gripped the nation, freezing our bio-security risk management in full containment mode, meaning zero tolerance for local Covid-19 transmission. The socio-economic, and some might add political, impacts of this crisis are huge. If both direct and indirect contributions are included, tourism represents some 22 percent of GDP, according to Fitch Solutions, and as much as 25 per cent of employment.

The ongoing collapse of this vital pillar of the economy means massive and growing unemployment, potentially amounting to 4-6 million people, a wave of bankruptcies, both among SMEs and larger corporates, and untold misery among our huge informal workforce. These are the millions of food vendors, masseuses, taxi drivers, hotel clerks and, yes, sex workers, who together make up the vibrant and welcoming grassroots human infrastructure that last year attracted 39.8 million visitors, making Thailand the world’s 9th most visited tourist destination and Bangkok the world’s most visited city.

This closed-door public health security policy is not sustainable. According to the Bank of Thailand and international rating agencies there can be no recovery of our economy without a recovery of tourism, and no recovery of tourism without foreign tourists who account for at least 65-70% of the total industry.

To open or not to open, this is question being hotly debated in the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), and its newer economic counterpart, the Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA), which currently run the country. The outcome to date, the much anticipated Special Tourist Visa (STV), satisfies only the public health voices in the debate. With its 14 day quarantine requirement, many other impractical hoops, and an initial limit of 1,200 foreign visitors per month, the zero tolerance, no local transmission risk profile is being maintained.

If this continues, Thailand’s tourism industry will die.

Let’s be very clear, only a quarantine-free welcome for foreign visitors can deliver the numbers needed to resuscitate the industry. The STV will allow 40 tourists a day to enter the Kingdom; in 2019 daily arrivals averaged nearly 110,000.

How to open safely?

This is the great conundrum facing Thailand and many other countries around the world for whom travel and tourism is a major economic driver.

We cannot wait for vaccines. They stand no chance of eliminating the disease globally. The idea that the only way to eliminate the threat of this disease somewhere is to eliminate it everywhere is simply misleading.

A more realistic solution is to be found in the words of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) European Director: “The end of the pandemic is the moment that we as a community are going to learn how to live with this pandemic.”

Enter the tourism industry’s new normal: Learning to live with the pandemic.

Learning to live with Covid-19 in Thailand means accepting there might be local transmission, accepting some people might get sick. It means opening our borders again, and quarantine-free entry for foreign tourists, albeit under controlled conditions.

If our Prime Minister has the courage to order the CCSA to make this policy shift, from total containment to managed risk, even as Covid-19 continues to ravage countries around the world, he should understand Thailand will not be alone. Many governments and many components of the international travel and tourism value chain are already rushing to construct the infrastructure necessary to rescue the industry from a global collapse.

For Thailand the first step must be to undo the pandemic paranoia conditioning affecting the whole country so people understand why we have to manage the risks and how we can do this safely, without overwhelming our health care system.

The second step is for all Government agencies and the entire tourism industry value chain to recognise the new normal requires maximum flexibility. For the government bureaucracy this means a dramatic change of mindset, from creating barriers to easing access. For the industry, it means no cancellation fees and full refunds, every step of the traveler’s way.

Keeping this new mindset front and centre, one can identify two types of visitors Thailand can manage for the foreseeable future: Those who are willing to accept and pay for 14-day quarantine, and those who are not.

For the former, the doors should be flung wide open with minimum barriers. Why not? After all this is zero risk for our country.

No restrictions on countries of origin, no pre-paid accommodation requirements and Covid-19 health insurance only for the quarantine period. Digital nomads, snowbirds, returning expatriates, long-stay tourists, businessmen, medical tourists, all should be welcome. The only requirement: A certifiable negative Covid-19 test less than 72 hours prior to flying. Visas-on-arrival for as long as you want should be the order of the day, even year-long-stay visas with a work permit, for a modest sum, say US$1,000.

This new welcoming mindset would generate a small but useful and humane increase in essentially risk-free arrivals so it must be accompanied by a rapid increase in Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) accommodation throughout the country and in airlift capacity. Simplifying entry requirements would also largely obviate the inter-agency bickering that has bedevilled the STV to date.
Making it even more welcoming, for those who can prove they already have homes here, would be the self-quarantine option, as currently practised in Hong Kong. On arrival, visitors are given another rapid Covid-19 test and if negative, equipped with a GPS tracking wristband and escorted to their registered place of residence, where they remain for 14 days. The tracking devices are monitored to make sure visitors don’t stray.

However, STV arrivals alone will not save our tourism industry; only quarantine-free entry will.

Here’s how it can work, safely:

Enter the much maligned “travel bubble”, quarantine-free travel from countries and areas with low Covid-19 transmission rates to, at first, designated areas in Thailand that aim to be virus free.

Travel bubbles require close, multi-agency cooperation and coordination at both ends. They aim to be bi-lateral, reciprocal agreements. This is why it is so vitally important that our twin Covid-19 nerve centres, and the Cabinet, make a formal decision to open quarantine-free travel in principle as soon as possible, so all the criteria and arrangements can move forward quickly.
Looking at the Thai end of the travel tunnel first, we need to select leading tourist destinations where access can be controlled. Initially that might mean Pattaya, Hua Hin, Phuket, Samui and nearby islands, and Koh Samet.

For these areas the CCSA should instruct the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) to undertake systematic, large-scale surveillance testing and tracking to cover all residents and migrant workers who are likely to come into contact with tourists. All those tested will be given a health status and tracking app, which will be updated as regular testing continues. Eventually the app will also record vaccination status

Responding to epidemiologists’ war cry that testing, testing and more testing is the key to living safely with the pandemic, large-scale testing would represent a major policy change for the MOPH. To date, Thailand has had a very low rate of testing, even lower than poorer countries like the Philippines and Indonesia. This must change if we are to open travel bubbles safely.

While these preparations are being undertaken for destinations where access is easily controllable, the CCSA and CESA should be working with all relevant agencies to assess the viability of opening additional travel bubbles to other key destinations as quickly as possible.

At the same time Safety and Health Administration (SHA) standard certification must be accelerated to cover virtually all facilities in the travel bubble destinations.

The aim is to reassure foreign visitors of these destinations’ near virus-free status during their stay, a claim which should be underlined by offering free Covid-19 health insurance for the duration of their stay. The CCSA and CESA should also start to develop the new more sustainable tourist ecosystems that meet the public health requirements needed to manage the Covid-19 risks in the longer term.

The next step is deciding which countries, and in some cases like China, which regions or cities, we will link up with.

These decisions must be data-driven, not withstanding diplomatic preferences, so as to allow a high degree of automaticity. As Covid-19 infection rates change around the world so will our allowable travel bubbles.

To manage epidemiological risk, the criteria and thresholds for identifying our travel bubble partners must be clearly defined. Thailand could adopt an approach similar to that being developed for the EU where the travel and tourism sector is screaming for harmonised travel regulations.

Published two months ago, the industry’s European Tourism Manifesto urges the EU to replace the need for quarantine with comprehensive, cost-effective testing and tracing, to avoid blanket restrictions by using more granulated data to better target specific areas, to not impose restrictions on passengers in transit, and to ensure the interoperability of contact tracing apps.

For Thailand to consider, the current European Commission criteria and thresholds dictate countries should not restrict travel from other countries with fewer than 25 new cases per 100,000 people over the previous 14 days, and a test positivity rate of less than three per cent provided the weekly testing rate exceeds 250 tests per 100,000 people. There are other criteria that could be considered, and thresholds can be adjusted, but this will be for Thailand’s epidemiologists to decide, once the political decision to open our borders for quarantine-free travel has been made.

Now that we have the tools to select, on a risk-managed basis, our travel bubble partners, we need to accurately monitor the health status of the individual tourists from these countries.

One possible tool is already a work-in-progress with at least 40 countries collaborating to launch Common Pass, a standard global framework enabling people to document and present their Covid-19 status, in a way that participating governments can verify, to facilitate safe border crossings while protecting individual data privacy, in effect a Covid-19 passport.

Common Pass, currently being tested internally on flights between London and New York, and Hong Kong and Singapore, is being developed by The Commons Project, a Swiss not-for-profit, in partnership with the World Economic Forum.

Common Pass aims to answer four questions that are vital for managing epidemiological risk with quarantine-free travel when our only protection is a very recent negative Covid-19 test. These are…

• How can a lab test result or vaccination record from another country be trusted?

• Is the lab or vaccination facility accredited?

• How do we confirm the person who took the test, or received the vaccination, is indeed the person who is traveling?

• Does the traveler meet border entry requirements?

Thailand is not currently participating in Common Pass. We should be. Each participating country needs to decide two things: Which centres for Covid-19 tests, and vaccinations, are deemed credible in their country, and their own border entry requirements. After the individual foreign traveler inputs their test results, the app will do the rest and when presented to airlines or border controls will show if the bearer is fit to enter.

Common Pass expects to become fully operational in early 2021. Until then, with no standard certifiable system for Covid-19 tests in place, we might decide to deploy the rapid 15-minute antigen tests that are coming onto the market at our airports as additional protection against less than reliable foreign test results.

Meanwhile, our multi-agency Tourism Recovery Team should be very busy negotiating travel bubbles with individual countries that currently meet our epidemiological criteria for quarantine-free entry. Given bureaucratic inertia, this will be a time consuming exercise but it is the only path to tourism survival.

We have already engaged with China for the STV. Now, we would do well to open discussions with Singapore, and learn from Singapore, as it has ASEAN’s most proactive policies for reopening international travel, including quarantine-free entry for travellers from Brunei and New Zealand since September 1. With hard work and goodwill on both sides we could hope to see Singaporean tourists arriving before the end of the year.

When Covid-19 started to spread across an unprepared world early this year, Bangkok and Thailand both ranked number one in terms of anticipated impact severity. The first case of the virus outside China was recorded here, and during the first three months, before the lockdown, nearly three million Chinese tourists visited. But our world-class public health security system, ranked sixth in the world prior to the pandemic, and the willingness of the Thai people to put community first, enabled us to manage the potential disaster to the point where today Thailand is regarded as an outstanding example of successful pandemic management.

We have now had six months to further strengthen our public health capacities across the board. It is time for the government to leverage this world-class public health security ecosystem and save our world-class tourism industry and the many millions of citizens who depend on it.

Julian Spindler is a strategic communications consultant and long-time resident of Thailand. Since arriving in Thailand in 1969, Julian has worked as a journalist, editor, publisher and strategic communications consultant. Today he specialises in sustainability issues, crisis communications and strategic planning.

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65 Comments

65 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Lord Biron

    November 20, 2020 at 5:46 pm

    Brilliant – but until starving people take the streets… Thailand incapacity to take a decision will prevail.

    This may not take too long, major groups are unable to reimburse their massive loans and the lay off will start soon. The million of unemployed will join the students which will inflame the situation.

    On the top of tourism, real estate is diving fast and retail is anemic…I hope things change before another coup will happen (the army will have no choice but intervening – and it may be necessary).

  2. Avatar

    SG666

    November 20, 2020 at 6:05 pm

    ….world class tourism industry…, sorry but after this words I discontinued reading this article as it should be 3rd world class tourism industry

  3. Avatar

    Ted

    November 20, 2020 at 6:39 pm

    Survival of the service industry, around the world, is spelled; “quarantine-free travel”.

    Good article, even though the end felt like the writer tried to end the story with a positive note to have CCSA, CESA and PM to change their mind. In the middle you told the truth, Thailand doesn’t even test for Covid as much as poorer countries has done, therefor I feel that you can’t call it for “outstanding example of successful pandemic management”.

  4. Avatar

    Charles Wall

    November 20, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    Excellent article Mr Spindler, it’s pity that the powers that be will pay no attention to it. Paranoia is the right word to describe the average Thai’s response to a virus that only
    kills 0.2% of the population, so little testing has been done in Thailand, who knows the true infection rate. We will have to get used to living with this virus, aiming to eliminate it completely in Thailand will fail and ultimately lead to complete economic collapse. Tourists will not quarantine and Thailand needs mass tourism, forget the high class tourists the junta want, there aren’t enough of them left after this pandemic and
    honestly, how many people keep a bank balance of over £12,500, their ideas are truly deranged. A retiree has been staying with me for 8 months and finally returned today, he has a house in Jomtien and a girlfriend whose family he supports, it’s disgraceful that it has taken this time. The process was a nightmare ending with the ASQ hotel cancelling the room and booking with another hotel so we had to get the Thai Embassy to reissue the Cert of entry with the new hotel 48 hours before the flight. In all we spent 30 hours on the computer. If thailand don’t open soon, many regulars like me who go 3-4 times a year, in desperation, will find other destinations,such as South America and Caribbean.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      November 21, 2020 at 8:10 am

      “who knows the true infection rate”?

      Pretty much everybody here, CW, as they can all see that despite the “paranoia” nobody’s queueing at the hospital for a check, despite the ongoing temperature checks that would give a warning to the symptomatic, nobody’s hospitalised for Covid, nobody’s tested positive when admitted to hospital even though everyone admitted is tested on admission, and only one person has tested positive when applying for a work permit although everyone’s tested when they do.

      Odd that …

      … or maybe it’s not that “nobody knows”, but that the half-wits who’ve stuffed it up don’t want to accept the blindingly obvious that the Thais (and Vietnamese, Cambodians and Taiwanese) have done a far better job of it.

      • Avatar

        Joe

        November 21, 2020 at 9:18 am

        Typical Isaan John answer

        • Avatar

          Issan John

          November 21, 2020 at 9:34 am

          You mean answering a question with easily verifiable fact rather than wild, unfounded assertions?

          I’ll take that as a compliment.

          • Avatar

            Mike

            November 23, 2020 at 8:20 am

            No, he means answering in such a way as to skew it so it sounds correct but just confirms your own personal beliefs. Such as the “fact” that “nobody’s queuing at the hospital for a check” and “nobody’s hospitalised for Covid”.

  5. Avatar

    John Brown

    November 20, 2020 at 6:57 pm

    Julian Spindler is a communications consultant with evidently no STEM background and or ability to understand complexity and multiplicative risks. He should learn to do real research or learn to stay in his lane, not consult in fields he is dramatically unqualified for like pandemic planning.

    It’s sad – in the genuine, non-sarcastic sense of the word – that people keep trying to shoot themselves in the foot by pushing unscientific policy ideas that falsely dichotomise between public health and the economy. And sad that The Thaiger’s editorial board keeps giving voice to this. Why do you keep entertaining tourism lobbyists at the expense of our public health AND long-term economic prospects? A serious question that is socially irresponsible to censor.

    Yes we are all badly affected by the closures. Yes the “emergency decree” is hugely overreaching and doesn’t just shut down valid political discourse but also prohibits transparency around testing and real infection measures domestically (the insider stories I could tell about this). Yes the civil service is hugely corrupt and wasteful with our resources. But no, reducing essential medically-validated safeguards will not make things better. Elimination policies are the ONLY policies that allow economies to function openly and eliminating quarantines would utterly destroy the little protections we Thai people have. Like it or not we’re going to have to pivot the national economy dramatically. The sooner people stop living in denial and entertaining unscientific fantasies the sooner we can get to the real planning for this.

    • Avatar

      Preesy Chepuce

      November 21, 2020 at 5:14 am

      Exactly. All this is, is yet another article raging against the reality check that is not going away – that Thailand’s economy is not diversified enough, and people need to stop clinging on, expecting tourism to surge back to previous ab-normal levels of 2019. It’s over. Accept it. Change.

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        November 21, 2020 at 9:02 am

        Unfortunately Julian Spindler doesn’t want “diversification” or “change” but is pro the status quo and strongly against anything that even hints at “Thaksin” politiics, even ending a partnership his own PR firm had with Edelman in 2007 when he found Edelman were handling PR for Thaksin.

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        November 21, 2020 at 9:31 am

        “change” and “diversity” are not what someone who supoorts the status quo and a military
        junta want.

        In 2007 Spindler’s PR firm made a point of publicly ending its partnership with Edelman because Edelman. were handling PR for Thaksin

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      November 21, 2020 at 8:44 am

      To be fair to Julian Spindler he does have a lot of experience here, including with the TAT and with government (albeit the latter largely through his late wife, who was deputy secretary general for political affairs to the military installed government after the 2006 military coup), but his well known pro-establishment / pro big business / anti-diversification / anti-democratic politics are shining through.

      The only way his proposed zoning of tourism and “control of access” around Pattaya and Hua Hin can work is with martial law controlling access and with China level “large scale surveillance”.

      He seems blind to the reality that the vast majority of Thais want democracy, want a say in their lives, and don’t want martial law – the complete opposite of what he’s advocating.

      • Avatar

        John Brown

        November 21, 2020 at 11:31 am

        With all due respect, Issaan John, working with the TAT and govt on strategic business initiatives does *not* give a consultant experience that qualifies him for pandemic planning.

        If he was on a team that dealt with, say, the Ebola or MERS or SARS response, then that would be the beginning of an argument. To seal the deal you would then have to evidence that his participation involved calculating multiplicative risks and taking into account the roles of exponential/parabolic infectivity, rather than sandbagging them.

        We are in this situation because public health policy has been unduly driven by those who attained their positions through manipulating opinions and not demonstrating facts. These people are now scrambling far out of their depths, and this consultant by the content of his article is no different.

    • Avatar

      Frank Leboeuf

      November 21, 2020 at 9:28 am

      Good insights John. Things need to change, and they will.

  6. Avatar

    Peter Hayes

    November 20, 2020 at 6:58 pm

    Now is the time to plan reopening but not yet the time to reopen. Wait a few more months for the vaccines to be approved and then stage a careful and planned safe reopening. Sorry no peak/high season tourists this year as if Thailand suffers resurgance in Covid cases this will kill tourism for many more months

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      November 21, 2020 at 9:46 am

      and not only “kill tourism” but set back the export industry and end any possibility of political and social change until the Covid crisis is declared “over”, which is coincidentally exactly what some people want.

    • Avatar

      Jesus Monroe

      November 21, 2020 at 11:10 am

      Sorry Pete, did you mean to say kill tourism or kill Thais with starvation?

      • The Thaiger & The Nation

        The Thaiger & The Nation

        November 21, 2020 at 11:19 am

        We should note that there is no evidence of “Thais starving”. There are economic challenges no doubt, hardship for sure, but “starvation”, no.

  7. Avatar

    Mike

    November 20, 2020 at 7:17 pm

    I’m 63 let’s get this party started

  8. Avatar

    The Land of Smiles

    November 20, 2020 at 7:31 pm

    Over the decades Thais grew accustomed to what felt like an inexhaustible cash inflow from tens of millions of tourists every year. They took foreign tourists for granted and stopped respecting them as customers. They even began to view them as some kind of pests spoiling their country. Precisely this mindset is where the infamous “dirty farang” expletive by the health minister originated from. Tuk-tuk drivers felt it`s ok to cheat foreigners and a government official felt it`s ok to insult them publicly. And then came the pandemic and the river of cash dried up almost overnight. Thais are still in a state of shock and act as if the river was still overflowing, when in reality they are staring at the dry riverbed. This would explain all these abortive tourism schemes in the last several months. They still act as if there were legions of farangs ready to jump though any hoops and pay any amounts of money to be mercifully let into the Land of Smiles. The shocking reality that the once vast river will now be down to a tiny trickle and that tourists are paying customers that have to be catered to hasn`t yet sunk in.

    • Avatar

      Preesy Chepuce

      November 21, 2020 at 5:16 am

      Yep. Spot on. I spoke to a Thai last night who had lost their job due to COVID. They say, 2 years and it will be back. I said, not likely, 5 years, and never again like before. The message needs to be drummed in, go and skill up, and learn to do something new for a living, tourism is changing.

      • Avatar

        gosport

        November 21, 2020 at 9:11 am

        Yes, tourism won’t be the same, people in the field better find a new skill or allocate more energy or money to other sectors. All sorts of pandemics are in the bushes lurking. Or save a little more in case

    • Avatar

      Joe

      November 21, 2020 at 9:22 am

      Well said.

  9. Avatar

    murika

    November 20, 2020 at 7:48 pm

    good global vision of the situation BUT opening will mean some people will die, and our leader maximo will lose his shiny medal given by WHO for being the only country that managed the covid so well, witch is not possible, he might lose face, AND his billionaires friends will not be able to buy 5 star hotels for a penny, that will make them very angry ! To be realistic, the problem is not about strategy to save the dying tourist economy, i guess everybody can understand that opening the country IS the answer, the problem is people who take the desisions right now have all interest to keep it that way.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      November 21, 2020 at 10:13 am

      … except Thailand isn’t “the only country that managed the covid so well” as Vietnam, Taiwan and Cambodia have done equally well, if not better.

      … and your reason for saying it’s “not possible” is WHAT, exactly, since all the easily verifiable facts make it very clear that it’s not only “possible” but happened?

  10. Avatar

    RORY N KEELAN

    November 20, 2020 at 8:14 pm

    Sensible but I fear it will be regarded by the government as being ‘too difficult’ – especially as public opinion has been trained to regard all tourism and tourists with fear and suspicion. They will wait, and wait, and wait until vaccination is widespread – and then wait some more. Maybe after Vietnam is open and hoovering up all the potential visitors, the penny will drop.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      November 21, 2020 at 10:17 am

      Vietnam has said, very clearly, that they do not intend opening their borders to tourists until the end of next year at the earliest, so that gives plenty of time to “wait”!

    • Avatar

      Jesus Monroe

      November 21, 2020 at 11:16 am

      the penny will drop if there are any to be found that is

  11. Avatar

    Ben

    November 20, 2020 at 8:19 pm

    This is not going to convince Thailand to open up.

    Today Pfizer and BioNTech are applying for FDA fast track approval, that’s expected to take a few weeks, for a vaccine they’ve reported has 95% efficacy. Also better treatments and testing are on the way as the pharma industry world-wide works feverishly to capitalize on this market opportunity. While this will not eliminate the virus completely, isn’t it better to come up with a plan that anticipates these tools that are months away?

    Thailand’s tourism industry isn’t going to die forever like you and me. It’ll spring back to life once visitors return. Yes you’ll have some business failures but there will be other opportunists ready to take their place.

    Thailand will have some patience and, as things unfold, it’ll become clear what the new normal is and the path forward.

    • Avatar

      Preesy Chepuce

      November 21, 2020 at 5:20 am

      This isn’t realistic. News outlets will report whatever will garner attention. These vaccines will not roll out in just a few weeks, it will take many months. The silver bullet vaccine is not out yet, and even when it is, maybe next Spring, it will take many months to manufacture anywhere near enough to satisfy the global demand. Remember that 95% efficacy means 5% inefficacy, and COVID is only hospitalising around 4%, and that’s enough to shut down economies. There are new international travel regimes and protocols yet to be devised, agreed, and implemented… it will take years…

      • Avatar

        J West

        November 21, 2020 at 1:09 pm

        Don’t forget that all the tens of thousands of pilots, hundreds of thousands of onboard staff, air traffic control and millions of ground staff will all have to be recertified before a single commercial plane takes off. This alone will take more than a year. It’s a heavily regulated industry. Every steward, engineer and gas monkey has a certification. Front end staff will need extensive retraining. Nobodies going anywhere fast, even with the vaccine.

  12. Avatar

    john

    November 20, 2020 at 8:25 pm

    vaccine will help move things along especially if its long lasting as the tests are showing at this time. This can reduce wide spread of the virus and protect the most people at risk hence reducing the pressure on the healthcare system. Given the vaccination rate and availability the first time for reopening is October 2021 before that timeframe there would be too much risk and since Thailand has kept its borders closed and virus out, it is better to wait for that timeframe, else the whole border closure has been for nothing. Businesses will die and yes people will suffer like we all do but it you look at the USA right now, than you see how bad it is, many death healthcare overrun complete mismanagement from the Trump administration, be greatfull that this didnt happen in Thailand, Tourism business is resilient and can be restarted. Death can not.

  13. Avatar

    Michael larkin

    November 20, 2020 at 9:19 pm

    You are using theronoun we ,you are not thai how as a foreigner can you be sp presumptous as to profer such nonsense

  14. Avatar

    Issan John

    November 20, 2020 at 9:21 pm

    An interesting article, but unfortunately in his over 2,150 words, Julian Spindler devotes over two thirds of them to describing the problems, which I think everyone reading the Thaiger is by now well aware of, and less than a third to any solutions – and those are either ones that will generate minimal income, ones that he says are copying countries that actually don’t do as he claims, or that would need the imposition of strict martial law or be reliant on technology that doesn’t yet exist.

    1. “Those who are willing to accept and pay for 14-day quarantine … the doors should be flung wide open with minimum barriers.”

    ‘Yes’, I think everyone here’s pretty much agreed on that, and also agreed that it will do very little to increase tourism. The claim that “making it even more welcoming, those who can prove they already have homes here, would be the self-quarantine option, as currently practised in Hong Kong” is simply WRONG. Hong Kong has NO such option for tourists or “visitors” as this is strictly for Hong Kong residents, and the number of expat residents that would apply to here are minimal and by definition they’re NOT “tourists”.

    2. “Looking at the Thai end of the travel tunnel first, we need to select leading tourist destinations where access can be controlled. Initially that might mean Pattaya, Hua Hin, Phuket, Samui and nearby islands, and Koh Samet.”

    Julian Spindler may have been here over fifty years, but he doesn’t seem to realise that although it MIGHT be possible to control access to islands, it would require martial law and the military to control access to Pattaya and Hua Hin, for both tourists, expats and locals and far from all Thais would appreciate not being allowed to leave their “zone” without quarantine.

    3. “For these areas the CCSA should instruct the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) to undertake systematic, large-scale surveillance testing and tracking to cover all residents and migrant workers who are likely to come into contact with tourists.”

    So EVERYBODY within the zone, tourists, expats and locals, would be subject to China-style / level surveillance, with mandatory testing and tracking?

    Seriously? Given the current political protests and issues?

    4. “Published two months ago, the industry’s European Tourism Manifesto urges the EU to replace the need for quarantine with comprehensive, cost-effective testing and tracing, to avoid blanket restrictions by using more granulated data to better target specific areas, to not impose restrictions on passengers in transit, and to ensure the interoperability of contact tracing apps.”

    That’s NOT what the European Travel Manifesto “urges”, which was “harmonised travel restrictions” as it’s only a very small part of it – it was one of five sub-points in one of three main points, plus some extra that Julian added that’s not in the ETM.

    He also neglects to mention that it’s dependent on a “comprehensive cost-effective testing and tracing” system that DOESN’T EXIST! The UK’s ‘Operation Moonshot’, which was recently described by Dr Angela Raffle (a consultant to the UK national screening programmes) as “like building a Channel tunnel without asking civil engineers to look at the plans … the most unethical proposal for use of public funds or for screening that I’d ever seen” because “for screening to work, you would have to do it on literally everybody every few days”, has yet to work in just one city (Liverpool) and it has a budget of £100 billion. That’s FOUR TRILLION BAHT, CLOSE TO DOUBLE THAILAND’S PREVIOUS TOTAL ANNUAL INCOME FROM TOURISM!!!

    5. “Common Pass expects to become fully operational in early 2021. Until then, with no standard certifiable system for Covid-19 tests in place, we might decide to deploy the rapid 15-minute antigen tests that are coming onto the market at our airports as additional protection against less than reliable foreign test results.”

    The “rapid 15-minute antigen tests” have just been described by the BMJ, three days ago, as “ENTIRELY UNSUITABLE FOR ‘TEST AND RELEASE’ … “THE TEST MAY MISS UP TO HALF OF COVID-19 CASES”. You’d get results that were just as reliable by flipping a coin!!!

    Interested to see you address those points, Julian …..

    • Avatar

      Fred glue

      November 21, 2020 at 2:27 am

      Both interesting too read these articles, what a year it has been. (Sad) opening up too tourism I hope it happens soon. Love too go back too Thailand been going since 1988. I can not visit with this stupid covid19.
      When we were in lock down I couldn’t even visit my brother next door. Let alone visiting an other country.
      Xmas coming soon, all I got on my mind is holidays, keep the good writing coming lads. Half of it I don’t understand, but it doesn’t take much too confuse me. Hope you are all well & stay out of trouble in these times. Get me on a plane,,🥵🥵🥵

    • Avatar

      Keith

      November 21, 2020 at 5:34 am

      accurate response to a bunch of stupid ideas

  15. Avatar

    Glenn

    November 20, 2020 at 10:39 pm

    there are so many ways to shoot holes in so many of the assumptions Julian write, and even more on the assumptions of the WHO, the govt and it’s under departments.

    as long as they and anyone thinks this new normal is normal, they are sunk, doomed, and have the wool pulled over their eyes (and worthless masks over their mouths).

    • Avatar

      Preesy Chepuce

      November 21, 2020 at 5:23 am

      Yes… one of the biggest assumptions is the notion that taking a vaccine permanently ends your susceptibility to the virus… it doesn’t. Getting control of this situation is going to take a few years, just like terrorism after the 9/11 incident. Pharma is not magic; it’s science + economics.

  16. Avatar

    jacklord

    November 20, 2020 at 11:08 pm

    The pathetic part of this sad tale is that there is absolutely no pandemic, whatsoever. But people will be led to believe anything, apparently.

    • Avatar

      Preesy Chepuce

      November 21, 2020 at 5:24 am

      It’s certainly reasonable to say that there is an economic pandemic going on, that’s the real crisis.

  17. Avatar

    EdwardV

    November 20, 2020 at 11:44 pm

    If 22% of all GDP comes from tourism, and foreign tourism is at least 65-70% of that number, than foreign tourism makes up at least 14-15% of all GDP. That’s a huge percentage to lose and still pretend everything is just “ok”. It’s why the statement there will be no recovery without foreign tourism is applicable. The point there should be no restrictions on people coming from any country if they are willing to quarantine for 14 days is valid. It makes no sense to do otherwise. Since most people won’t quarantine, it will never be but a small number but it’s better than nothing. . Travel bubbles make sense but they seem to be hard for Thailand to set up. You have to assume they don’t want the risk and/or other countries don’t fully trust the Thai numbers. After all if you are testing so few people, you can’t really know. That’s especially true since so many people who come down with Covid have no symptoms. We know for a fact It’s in Thailand because there are reported cases, just have no idea of the extent. The DJ, soccer player, the Thai lady who came from France, the two different groups who flew to japan and tested positive upon arriving to name a few. Regardless travel bubble should have already been set up. The real question will be what will Thailand do with those who are willing to be vaccinated? What if any restrictions will be placed on those people? Personally I think just about every country will accept people who have been vaccinated and tested prior to travel. If Thailand doesn’t, people will just go somewhere else.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      November 21, 2020 at 10:26 am

      “The point there should be no restrictions on people coming from any country if they are willing to quarantine for 14 days is valid”

      Unfortunately it’s the only point that is!

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      November 21, 2020 at 10:40 am

      “We know for a fact It’s in Thailand because there are reported cases, just have no idea of the extent”

      Actually everybody here in Thailand has a pretty good idea since “we know for a fact” that everybody admitted to hospital is tested for Covid and nobody’s tested positive, that everyone applying for a work permit is tested and only one person’s tested positive, that Big ‘C’ and Lotus are still temperature testing, as 7-11 and all markets were, and nobody went to hospital for a check as a result, etc, etc, etc.

      That may be hard to accept for those living in countries where Covid’s rife, but nevertheless those are the “facts”.

      • Avatar

        EdwardV

        November 21, 2020 at 11:12 am

        John never mind You are stating as fact things you couldn’t know are facts unless you are actually present when they happen. After all it’s not like Thailand actually makes things up to look good. That said I was talking about asymptotic people. Hope that helps.

        • Avatar

          Issan John

          November 21, 2020 at 11:48 am

          So for you to accept anything as “fact” you have to be “actually present when they happen”.

          Seriously?

          … and I realise that you’re “talking about asymptomatic people” but unless 100% of those with Covid in Thailand are asymptomatic, in which case Thailand has the answer to the crisis, where are all the symptomatic people?

          WHERE?

          Even if only 5% are symptomatic rather than the more widely accepted 20%, shouldn’t there be some?

          Where are they all?

          WHERE?

          It’s a simple question, but neither you nor anyone else seems able to answer it.

      • Avatar

        Ted

        November 23, 2020 at 4:50 pm

        John, first of all, I was forced to have mrs to drive me to a hospital, here in LOS a weel ago and was not tested!

        “that Big ‘C’ and Lotus are still temperature testing, as 7-11 and all markets were, and nobody went to hospital for a check as a result, etc, etc, etc.”
        Have you ever seen anyone getting flagged and taken to be tested because of high temp, or asked the the staff at you local 7 how many they have stopped? Well I have and 0 has been the answer. I on the other hand has been stopped for high temp. I said; farang is always warm and sweaty, after we laughed a bit I could enter (Impact for a housing exhibition)

        And, finally, even though my native country has quite a few C19 deaths. If we go back 10 years and compare with the yearly average of those years, it is wayๆ below. Perhaps the same thing that is going on in Thailand, so the low numbers of the dead, is a proof of successful Covid management, are most likely wrong. But that fewer people might have died off other things, due to the simple fact that, a lot of people do not live their lives as the did pre Covid. Just a though.

        I agree with an earlier post: this is a man-made economic pandemic, that shouldn’t be here because, I believe, that in a few years time we will see that it killed/ruined a lot more peoples lives then what covid.

  18. Avatar

    AI

    November 21, 2020 at 12:12 am

    Yes, Jacklord, I have askled timne and time again for proof that the virus actually exists and some and I got only 3 answers – Here –

    1 – MILLIONS of doctors know it’s real.
    2 – My MiL died from it…….
    3 – Someone in a lab in China proved it.

    And that is it! So, all these lock downs etc. affecting many, many, many millions of good people.
    They even had a test sampled in Africa and gave it to goats, sheep and even fruit and what happened? POSITIVE! LOL! And the same scare/fearmonegrs are still doing their uttermost best to play the bogeyman around here and elswhere. I just asked for some official data from any govt. and ….NUFFIN! Not an iota. I even got called “the dregs of humanity” by a certain know it all who thinks that the sun shines outta his behind!
    And yes, “people will be led to believe anything” indeed. The telescreen speaks and it is holier than holier facts! No wonder the world is in a right ol’mess……;)
    PS – Only yesterday yet another leading doctor came out with a truth bomb. Look up
    ‘Top Pathologist Claims The Current VIRUS Is The Greatest Hoax Ever Perpetrated On The Public’.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      November 21, 2020 at 11:35 am

      … except if you read what Dr Roger Hodkinson actually said, he did NOT say that he thought the virus was a hoax but HE ACTUALLY SAID THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE – that Covid-19 was real (he’s CEO of Western Medical Assessments who produce Covid testing kits, FFS!) but that the “hoax” is that wearing masks, social distancing, and lockdowns work.

      His view, as set out very clearly in the Great Barrington Declaration, was simply that until a vaccine is found for Covid-19 there was no point in lockdowns, masks, etc, because he doesn’t think they work so people should be allowed to die leaving everyone else to continue life as normal.

      THAT’S the “hoax”, in his view – the masks and the lockdowns, NOT “the virus”.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      November 21, 2020 at 11:58 am

      “I have askled timne and time again for proof that the virus actually exists …”

      … and you’ve been asked “time and time again” exactly what proof you want but answered “NUFFIN … not an iota”.

      I’m tempted to say that it’s like trying to answer a half-wit, but that would be unfair.

  19. Avatar

    Monir

    November 21, 2020 at 12:49 am

    Expecting somebody of CCSA or MOPH Thailand will go through this article…………

  20. Avatar

    Ryan McManaman

    November 21, 2020 at 1:04 am

    An excellent article. But do you really think the average Thai IQ is capable of understanding your message Mister Spindler ? Let me remind you the fact that most Thais dont want the government to reopen the borders. They think an economic devastation with skyrocketing unemployment and suicide rates is better than an innocuous virus blown over by the media. There is an incredible lack of intellectuallity in Thailand and you will never convince such a dumb and badly educated people of your ideas. Just take a blank map and ask: “Where is UK located ?”. Dont be surprised if many Thais point their fingers at China, Canada or even Antarctica. The worst virus in Thailand is not Covid, its a virus called “stupidity”.

  21. Avatar

    James

    November 21, 2020 at 1:27 am

    The top five visited cities in 2019 in terms of numbers are:

    Hong Kong
    Bangkok
    London
    Macau
    Singapore

    All visitor numbers are obviously down for all of them in 2020, there is nothing which can be done and nothing will change until one of the three variations of the virus vaccinations which are about to go live have been distributed and at least half of a country’s population have been vaccinated.

    There is no silver bullet available to Thailand or any other country at the moment, we are all in a similar situation.

    Tourism is down and will stay down for the time being.

  22. Avatar

    Johnny Dee

    November 21, 2020 at 3:02 am

    Great article yet again but I say again to the Thai government please open the borders for all us sleazy dirty men who go Thailand for one thing it’s time to move now before it’s too late the ladies are waiting for our bulging pockets in more ways than one

  23. Avatar

    Preesy Chepuce

    November 21, 2020 at 5:11 am

    Tourism is NOT a “vital pillar to the economy”… it’s a sticking plaster solution to wholistic economic development. The whole article is based on a false premiss. Tourism is not the answer.

    Most of the leading tourism economies in the world have diversified economies with strong other sectors to support the economy. Thailand is overcentralised around tourism and its capital city.

    Raging against the dying of the light is not realism or pragmatism. Wake up, and smell the coffee, it’s time to reduce the size of the tourism economy and expand tech and manufacturing industries.

  24. Avatar

    David Jackson

    November 21, 2020 at 7:23 am

    Excellent article but falling on deaf ears.

  25. Avatar

    Issan John

    November 21, 2020 at 7:55 am

    Yes, all the doctors and all the hospitals have got it wrong, while you and your fellow experts have got it right and all we have to worry about is falling off the edge of the world …

  26. Avatar

    Maag

    November 21, 2020 at 8:14 am

    Thailand should stay closed…..life is so cool without visitors !

  27. Avatar

    Strider

    November 21, 2020 at 8:49 am

    Tourism is already dead if you haven’t noticed.
    Quarantine-free welcome for foreign visitors can only deliver more COVID.
    All the countries which make up the bulk of tourists to Thailand are in some state of national lockdown and those nations are in the same financial crisis as is Thailand. The potential of 39 million visitors is not going to happen because, like Thailand, those people are out of a job and struggling to just stay alive never mind going on a vacation. STV’s 40 tourists a day wouldn’t even make a blip on the tourist radar. Any New Normal tactics will prove a waste of time. Any tourist introduced virus will run ramped through the country costing Thailand billions of baht. How soon we forget the initial crisis and panic and attacks on foreigners.
    One of Thailand’s biggest problem is lack of diversity. Thailand has put all their eggs in one basket and now it’s coming back to haunt them.
    Some decades ago when the government decided Thailand would become a technological, IT and scientific hub, the idea was faced with the stark reality that it had no qualified people to make it happen as the educational system was lacking in these fields of expertise.
    Thailand has enough farmers, motorbike hacks, and service staff. Its universities need to start cranking out graduates in sciences and technologies and R&D.
    There is only so much any economy can do with such a devastating pandemic upon us. To be sure, the countries that are technologically savvy are suffering themselves but not to the extent that Thailand is suffering.
    Robbing Peter to pay Paul is not the answer. The struggle must continue until the vaccine arrives no matter what the financial damage. Remember…it’s only a possession.

  28. Avatar

    (Dr) Eamonn Maher

    November 21, 2020 at 12:14 pm

    This article is, BY FAR, the best article I have ever read on this site for more than one year. It has provoked a huge response, for and against, by setting out the main parameters in the economy/health debate in Thailand. Each country has to cut its cloth according to its needs in managing COVID-19. Like any other country, Thailand has done some things right and some things wrong. There is no “one size fits all”, but, unlike many of the bickering commentators I see here, you have made a SIGNIFICANT contribution.

    Julian, I hope to meet you in person the next time I visit Thailand. Chewing the fat over a few beers never did anyone any harm, whereas endless bickering and nit-picking stops proper debate and analysis. As someone else also mentioned, education is also key in this crisis, and indeed in every aspect of life, but especially in health and safety.

  29. Avatar

    J West

    November 21, 2020 at 12:55 pm

    Recently, The Guardian news media published an article exposing a scam where travel agents of a particular Ethnic origin are supplying Forged Covid free test documents for a fee to travelers. Is this how travelers are boarding aircraft Covid negative but arriving Covid positive? Which other documents are forged or bribed into existence before so called tourists arrive in Thailand only to spread Vovid while in ASQ lockdown? ?

  30. Avatar

    Sweden Ron

    November 21, 2020 at 1:48 pm

    Please Issan John, stop monopolizing every goddamn thread there is. Get a life away from your computer and let the rest of us get a word in now and then..

  31. Avatar

    Peter

    November 21, 2020 at 4:50 pm

    The best way to deal with the “Pandemic” is to open the country and go back to normal (not the “New Normal”) and prove that the “Pandemic” is fake and a scam being used to restructure the world into a Technocracy that will only benefit the powerful few.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      November 21, 2020 at 6:46 pm

      Peter, why do you think so many doctors around the world, and so many hospitals, don’t think it’s “fake and a scam”?

      Surely they can’t all be wrong?

      So … why? It’s a pretty simple question.

  32. Avatar

    AI

    November 23, 2020 at 3:31 pm

    Sweden John – don’t expect any common sense or even reality from john boy. He’s a prime scaremonger and seems to enjoy and even wallow in all of this con-vid plandemic palaver.
    He even has the cheek (I wouldn’t say “balls” because he has none) to put people down as being “the dregs of society” or even a “half wit” (55!) if you don’t go along with his tin pot ideas and views which can be shot down by a child with a pea shooter!
    And yes, he’s like a virus/bad rash all over many,, many of the posts on this open minded online site. He should be writing on the BP or TVisa websites.
    Betcha he even smiles and bows when he sees his image in a mirror 555! I shall not use bad language here on this site (or even elsewhere, but I can think of a few words which would suit him just perfect).
    Just take a look at the “so many doctors around the world” line. Well, it was millions and millions and millions etc. etc……zzzzz And yet these are people who have been shown that they are being paid (along with the hospitals) nice buckaroonies for every case of con-vid. Simple research it! Something jon boy never does….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……. 😉

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Coronavirus Japan

Tokyo Olympics may cost almost US$2 billion more due to Covid delay

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Tokyo Olympics may cost almost US$2 billion more due to Covid delay | The Thaiger

The Tokyo Olympics may cost almost US$2 billion more than its original budget of US$13 billion, after it has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Olympic organisers say they will decide on the increased budget for the Games after communicating with Japan’s government and Tokyo. The Games were postponed by 1 year after Covid-19 spread worldwide, with its opening date set to July 23, 2021. Of all the events postposed because of Covid-19, the Olympics was the biggest and most complex to postpone.

Such a delay has yielded new costs, from retaining the organising staff, rebooking venues and transportation. Not to mention, the question of if the event can actually proceed safely. But Olympic officials are reaffirming that the Games can, indeed, be held following safety measures.

Such covid safety measures are reportedly another reason why the price of the event has increased, although the new estimated cost doesn’t include such measures. Officials say they are expecting the additional costs to be paid for by the Japanese government. Organisers and officials are reportedly considering a long list of possible virus countermeasures that they hope will make the Games possible, even if a vaccine is not yet available.

A dialed-down, lower-cost Olympics plan was announced in September, with banners, mascots, meals, and athlete welcome ceremonies being scrapped along with fewer free tickets to be offered. A senior official has said that Tokyo Olympics test events will resume in March with a decision on fan attendance to be made in the spring season.

Thomas Bach, the International Olympic Committee Chief says he is very confident that the Games will have attending fans. However, fan enthusiasm has decreased inside of Japan, with summer polls indicating only 1 in 4 Japanese people wanting the Games to happen, with most wanting them to be postponed or even fully cancelled.

So far, Tokyo has reported just over 40,000 cases of Covid, with Japan reporting 145,000 cases since the pandemic began.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus Singapore

Singaporean woman gives birth to baby with Covid antibodies in system

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Singaporean woman gives birth to baby with Covid antibodies in system | The Thaiger

A Singaporean woman has given birth to a baby with Covid antibodies in its system, giving new clues into whether Covid can be transferred from mother to child. The woman, Celine Ng-Chan, was infected with the virus in March during her pregnancy, and gave birth this month to her Covid-free baby.

“My doctor suspects I have transferred my Covid-19 antibodies to him during my pregnancy.”

The World Health Organisation says it is not yet known whether a pregnant woman with Covid-19 can pass the virus to her foetus or baby during pregnancy or delivery.

Ng-Chan became mildly sick from the virus, but was discharged from the National University Hospital after 2.5 weeks. So far, the World Health Organisation says it is not yet known whether a pregnant woman can pass the virus to her fetus or baby during pregnancy or delivery, but this new finding helps researchers with new information. The active virus has not been found in samples of fluid around the fetus in the womb or in breast milk as of now, with Chinese doctors reporting such detection of antibodies in babies born to women, who have been infected with the virus, has been shown to decline over time.

New York Presbyterian/Columia University Irving Medical Centre has also reported in October, in JAMA Pediatrics, that the transmission of the virus from mothers to babies is rare, further pointing towards the risks being minimal of the possible transmission from mother to baby either in the womb, during delivery, or in breastfeeding.

Meanwhile, a 29 year old female Thai returnee from Myanmar has tested positive for Covid in Chiang Mai, after visiting the hospital with flu-like symptoms. She was the only local case reported, out of 5 other positive tests, with officials saying she is believed to have contracted the virus in Myanmar.

The positive test on November 27, came after she was out and about, with authorities saying 326 people are suspected of coming in contact with the woman. The woman reportedly visited a mall to eat Japanese shabu, watched a movie, visited a karaoke bar, and used public transportation before her positive diagnosis.

SOURCE: NDTV.com

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai woman tests positive for Covid in Chiang Mai, 72 people found to be in close contact

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Thai woman tests positive for Covid in Chiang Mai, 72 people found to be in close contact | The Thaiger

A 29 year old female Thai returnee from Myanmar has tested positive for Covid in Chiang Mai, after visiting the hospital with flu-like symptoms. She was the only local case reported, out of 5 other positive tests, with officials saying she is believed to have contracted the virus in Myanmar. The positive test on November 27, came after she was out and about, with authorities saying 326 people are suspected of coming in contact with the woman. The woman reportedly visited a mall to eat Japanese shabu, watched a movie, visited a karaoke bar, and used public transportation before her positive diagnosis.

Of those suspected 326 people who came in contact with the woman, 105 were deemed at high risk of infection with 149 deemed at low risk. Officials said 72 people were in close contact with her. The mall operator says those who were found to be in contact with the woman will proceed to a 14 day quarantine period.

The woman reportedly came down with symptoms on November 23 and went to the Nakornping Hospital the next day to be checked out. Now, the Chiang Mai governor has ordered all affected venues to be disinfected, including the Central Festival Chiangmai mall, which closed at 4 pm for a “big cleaning” yesterday.

Officials from the Disease Control Department have provided the woman’s whereabouts at a briefing on Saturday as part of the contact-tracing exercise. Sopon Liamsirithavorn, director of the Communicable Diseases Division, has presented a timeline of her movements:

  • From October 24 to November 23, the woman was in Myanmar. On November 23, she developed a fever, watery diarrhea, and lost her sense of smell.
  • On November 24, she still had a fever and developed a cough and a headache. Around 5 am on that day, she travelled from Myanmar to the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai by public van.
  • Around 11 am on November 24, she left Chiang Rai for Chiang Mai by bus.
  • At 2.51 pm the same day, the woman arrived at her condominium in a Grab car. That night, she used another Grab car to visit a karaoke bar in the Santitham area with two friends. They smoked a cigarette and shared it.
  • On November 25, she stayed overnight at a condominium with one of the friends who had returned from the entertainment venue around 2 am. Two other friends who lived in the room opposite came to the room to drink alcohol.
  • About noon on November 25, the woman left the condominium in another Grab car. She arrived at her condo building at around 1 pm.
  • Between 3.30 pm and 8.30 pm, she used another Grab car to visit a shopping mall and watched a movie there, had meals, and went shopping. She wore a face mask most of the time. She later used another Grab car to return to her condominium.
  • On November 26, the woman took a Grab car to a private hospital in Chiang Mai for a medical check-up around 3.30 pm after she lost her sense of smell, had watery diarrhea, and a body temperature of 36.9 celsius. She underwent a Covid-19 test.
  • Around 10pm, she was sent to Nakornping Hospital for another Covid-19 test. On November 27, the tests turned out positive.

A full announcement is set to be made by the Chiang Mai governor and Thai public health authorities when more information has been confirmed.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | Reuters

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