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Finalised “travel bubble” list to be submitted to CCSA

Jack Burton

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Finalised “travel bubble” list to be submitted to CCSA | Thaiger
PHOTO: Sawadee Siam News

Thailand’s tourism and sports minister says foreign tourists will be allowed back into the Kingdom in August under a 3 phase “travel bubble strategy, which will include countries who are considered at a low-risk of the Covid-19 contagion and will be allowed to travel on specific routes or itineraries “booked through small agencies.”

After discussions with the Tourism Authority of Thailand and private tourism operators, the minister met with Public Health Ministry officials to finalise the list of travel bubble countries, which will be proposed to the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration within the next 2 weeks. He stressed that the countries “must be deemed at a low- risk for Covid-19 by the World Health Organization.”

In the plan’s first phase, tourist numbers will be limited, and the areas they can visit will be restricted to Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, Krabi, Phuket, Pattaya, and possibly Chiang Rai and Hat Yai. These limits will be relaxed in the second phase if it’s deemed safe.

The third phase would see a lifting of all restrictions on tourist arrivals and the areas they could visit, the minister said, without specifying a time frame. This would essentially restore free travel for foreign tourists within Thailand.

“Before opening each area for tourists, we have to ensure they have enough public health capacity to serve the foreign arrivals. If the tourism situation and virus containment go smoothly, we expect to see around 6.7 million foreign visitors between August and December. “

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions

Tim Newton

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Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | Thaiger

Three of Thailand’s biggest expat areas are seeing sharp rises in new infections, partly from pre-Songkran traffic. The Songkran holidays, now officially over (but will see many people taking today off and making a weekend Songkran extension), and the government says they are expecting to see a rise in the cases numbers reported in the popular holiday locations.

Chon Buri Public Health office says they now have a total of 910 infections since April 1. They have 103 new cases in the past 24 hours. Most new cases are in Bang Lamung district which includes Pattaya City with 47, Siracha with 12) & Chon buri City with 8.

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | News by Thaiger

Meanwhile Phuket has a total of 142 infections recorded on the island with the Governor still insisting there will be no need for a lockdown. Here’s a breakdown of the areas and the numbers of recorded infections so far (below).

Governor Narong announced that the Phuket Infectious Disease Control Committee won’t be implementing an official lockdown, but will “strictly raise the intensity of public health measures to counter the spread of Covid-19″.

“Everyone should wear a face mask, maintain social distancing, wash their hands frequently and install the Mor Chana app (available for free from App Store and Google Play Store).”

A meeting of the CCSA, chaired by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is expected to upgrade restrictions in red zone areas around the country, which includes Phuket and Pattaya. Read more about the latest red and orange zones HERE.

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | News by Thaiger

For Hua Hin expats, there’s been 100 new Covid-19 infections announced in Prachuap Khiri Khan in the past 24 hours, 75 cases from Hua Hin. This takes the total in the province since April 1 to 625. Hua Hin accounts for nearly 90% of the district’s total cases.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

AstraZeneca will remain Thailand’s primary vaccine, insists Health Minister

Maya Taylor

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AstraZeneca will remain Thailand’s primary vaccine, insists Health Minister | Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

The Health Minister insists the AstraZeneca vaccine will remain Thailand’s primary Covid-19 jab, despite concerns over rare side-effects. Some countries have suspended its use, while Denmark is the first country in Europe to abandon it completely. However, Anutin Charnvirakul says it’s up to each country to make their own decisions and Thailand is pressing ahead with the jab.

“There are many factors for each country whether to use or not use the vaccine. But we have expertise to closely monitor the vaccine information. We base decisions on scientific knowledge, not news. If something happens, we will let the public know. Please do not worry about it.”

Thailand is ordering vaccines from a limited number of manufacturers, primarily AstraZeneca and China’s Sinovac Biotech. According to a Bangkok Post report, the Kingdom is purchasing 71 million doses of the AstraZeneca jab and 2 million doses of CoronaVac, the vaccine from Sinovac. The rollout is expected to begin in June, with health officials aiming to inoculate 35 million people (half the population) by the end of the year.

However, the challenge will be gaining the public’s trust, as countries around the world express concerns about the very rare risk of blood clots that appears to be associated with adenovirus vector vaccines, such as AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. The single-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is the third vaccine to be approved for emergency use in Thailand, but the US has just suspended its use following a number of blood clot incidents similar to the AstraZeneca cases.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation and the European Medicines Agency insist the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the risks of very rare blood clots. In the UK, the vaccine has been widely administered as the country sets its sights on achieving herd immunity, with Anutin pointing out that infections there have dropped considerably.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Alcohol sales may be banned in restaurants, but no lockdown for now

Maya Taylor

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Alcohol sales may be banned in restaurants, but no lockdown for now | Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook/ศูนย์ข้อมูล COVID-19

Thailand’s Public Health Ministry says it believes a lockdown is currently unnecessary, despite a record 1,543 new Covid-19 infections yesterday. Of those, only 3 were imported. However, Health Minister Anutin Chanvirakul says the government is confident it can control the spread of the virus without having to lock down the country.

“We have seen no point in imposing a lockdown for the time being. The (current) cycle of disease has only been 2 weeks and we have had good cooperation from all stakeholders. What we need to see now is less mobility. If we can do it, we will definitely see a declining number of new infections by next month.”

According to a Bangkok Post report, officials are proposing to group the entire country into “red” and “orange” provinces in order to determine the extent of disease control measures needed. It’s understood that the following 18 provinces will be designated “red” (maximum control) provinces: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, Samut Prakan, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Samut Sakhon, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom, Phuket, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nonthaburi, Songkhla, Tak, Udon Thani, Suphan Buri, Sa Kaeo, Rayong and Khon Kaen.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration will meet today to discuss a number of proposed restrictions, which will apply to varying degrees across the country. In red provinces, it’s likely that restaurants will be required to close by 9pm, and 11pm in the rest of the country. There is also a proposal to ban the sale of alcohol in restaurants everywhere.

Parties and gatherings of more than 50 people will also be banned. The government will be asked to close schools and universities, with students reverting to online learning. If the measures are approved at today’s meeting, they will be in force until at least the end of the month.

Anutin says there will be no ban on travel around the country, but provincial officials will be able to implement their own measures at their discretion.

“We only suggest that people who visited home for the Songkran festival should work from home at their hometown for 2 weeks. Full-time wearing of facemasks is also a must when getting outside.”

While infections in this latest wave of Covid-19 are more widespread and numbers are rising faster than with previous outbreaks, Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam says the government must balance disease prevention measures with the country’s economic recovery. The Bangkok Post reports that he declined to speculate on whether the planned re-opening to foreign tourism would go ahead on time.

NOTE: a meeting of the CCSA this afternoon at 4pm will decide to upgrade its list of red zone provinces or to add or remove restrictions.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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