Government considers easing entry rules, antigen testing may replace PCR test
In anticipation of more international arrivals in the coming months, the Thai government is reviewing current entry requirements. According to a Bangkok Post report, officials may replace the PCR test with antigen test kits and rules could be relaxed for people unfortunate enough to have sat near an infected passenger during their flight. Any amendment of the current rules would need approval from the national communicable disease control committee and the CCSA. The PM will chair a CCSA meeting later today.
Yuthasak Supasorn from the Tourism Authority of Thailand says the time it takes to get results from PCR testing could see the method replaced with ATKs in order to better manage the flow of arrivals during the coming months. He adds that the CCSA will also review the rule that currently requires travellers who sat 2 rows behind or in front of an infected passenger to be moved to quarantine facilities. According to the Bangkok Post report, officials are considering a change that would mean only people who sat next to an infected passenger would be quarantined, meaning a maximum of 2 people for each patient.
Other proposed changes include ditching mandatory hospitalisation for infected arrivals who are asymptomatic or only have mild symptoms. Instead, they would be given a choice of alternative quarantine or a “hospitel”, with the period of stay reduced from 14 days to 10. As of November 9, just 28 of the 28,021 travellers who entered the country following the November 1 re-opening have tested positive for Covid-19.
Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi from the Thai Hotels Association says that if the number of foreign arrivals continues to rise, problems such as congestion at the airport and insufficient airport transfer vehicles could arise. Currently, only transportation services with the SHA Plus accreditation can transfer arriving passengers to their accommodation.
She adds that while SHA Plus hotels in Bangkok are benefiting from the mandatory 1-night stay to await Covid test results, hotels in Pattaya and Hua Hin continue to struggle, with fewer guests than expected. Ditching the PCR test in favour of antigen testing would mean tourists would be free to immediately travel to the destination of their choice. The current rules require them to stay at a hotel that is within a 2-hour drive of their arrival airport until they receive a negative result from their PCR test.
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SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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