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Covid test confusion ruins UK family holiday to Thailand

Tim Newton

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An email with another sad outcome from possible risks, albeit small, that individuals and families face returning to Thailand at this time. The Thaiger receives at least a few of these sad stories every week. Names of individuals and locations been changed or withheld on the request of the author.


My name is Pete Passport. I am a journalist and travel writer from the UK.

I have travelled to Thailand many times since the 1980s, and love the country and the culture.

But I have just had a disturbing experience in my latest visit with my wife and son, as part of a trip to write a holiday feature about how Thailand is re-opening to tourism in time for Songkran.

Before we set off from the UK, we had PCR tests done at a government-registered and NHS-accredited lab to make sure that we were covid negative, even though these are no longer required by the Thai Government. We were all negative. The result of my son Tim is enclosed.

When we arrived in Bangkok for our two week holiday, we had our Thailand Pass ready, our quarantine hotel booked (a hotel close to the arrival airport), and we had our covid test. My wife and I had a negative result, but our son Tim tested positive. It meant our planned flight to Phuket was missed.

We could not understand it because our son had no symptoms and had just had a negative test literally 10 hours before we left the UK.

The doctor did not phone us to tell us what to do that night. But my wife and I decided to book a room next door so Tim could start isolation immediately.

Firstly: We received an email from the health authorities wanting our son Tim to go to hospital – despite him not having any covid symptoms. This would have required us to deposit up to 80,000 Thai Baht which the hospital said we would be able to reclaim from our insurance company. I did not think this was reasonable or necessary. We contacted the insurance company also said they would not pay for that because hospital treatment did not seem necessary at the moment.

Secondly: Then the health authorities said that we could not stay at our present hotel, but they had found us a “Quarantine Hotel”. They said that Tim would need to stay here for seven days, and maybe more if he continued to test positive.

The cost of this was THB 27,000 for seven days. And for me and my wife THB 1943 per night (THB 13,601). That is THB 40,601. But even if we did this, there is no guarantee that Tim would be allowed to leave after seven days.

Thirdly: We were told that we could fly home immediately. But we had to make a quick decision because we could not stay in our present hotel. So, we booked a direct flight from Bangkok to London.

There are no requirements to have a Fit-to-Fly certificate to enter the UK so the airline said we did not need to produce one. But for public safety, Tim wore an FFP3 mask all the time (see the photographs), and he sat away from other passengers.

Covid test confusion ruins UK family holiday to Thailand | News by Thaiger

Just so you are aware, Tim, myself and my wife are all fully vaccinated, and we brought our covid vaccination certificates and our pre-flight negative covid test results with us.

When we arrived back in the UK, we went straight from the airport to the PCR testing lab to get Tim covid tested again because we could not believe he had tested positive. The result came back that he was negative. I have enclosed the test result.

I asked the lab technician why he would test negative in the UK twice, and yet he tested positive in Thailand, and he had no explanation. He insisted that both Tim’s negative results were accurate.

We arrived in Thailand on April 10 and stayed one night before leaving. We should have been staying in Thailand until April 24, and I should have been writing a wonderful story about how Thailand is open for business again. But instead, the story will be a very different one.

I have also lost a lot of money from wasted flights, hotel bookings which cant be refunded, car parking fees, etc. And my family did not get to have the holiday they had hoped for. I feel heartbroken.

I just thought that I should share with you our very disappointing experience. We will now spend the remainder of our two weeks holiday back here in the UK.

But I must admit that we wished we had chosen instead to go to one of the other southeast Asian countries which are open to fully vaccinated tourists instead of taking a chance on Thailand.

Maybe in the future we will venture back, but as you can imagine, this sort of experience does leave a lasting impression of injustice.

Best wishes

Pete Passport


The documentation and paperwork mentioned in the article was provided to The Thaiger.

There’s a lot to unpack in this tale of woe and confusion which amplifies the risks people still face if they travel to Thailand at this time. We should point out that the vast majority of people coming to Thailand at this time don’t have similar experiences but it remains a small and measurable percentage of people that will not be returning to their home countries with glowing reports about Amazing Thailand.

 

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    Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2011. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for 42 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program (public radio Australia), presented over 11,000 radio news bulletins, 3,950 in Thailand alone, hosted 1050 daily TV news programs and produced 2,100 videos, TV commercials and documentaries. He also reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue and other major stories in Thailand. As founder of The Thaiger in 2016, Tim is the current English Content Manager for the company, based in their Bangkok HQ.

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