Thailand’s Health Ministry is seeking to reduce the mandatory quarantine period for foreign tourists, currently mandated at 14 days, to 10 days. The reduction would be assessed after one month and, if successful, quarantine could be further reduced to 7 days. However, this reduction would only apply to those arriving from countries considered “safe” from Covid-19. Those arriving from high-risk countries would still be subject to 14 days’ quarantine.
It’s understood the ministry plans to submit its proposal to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration within the next 2 weeks, and has asked the Disease Control Department to compare differing quarantine periods of 7, 10, and 12 days, to determine their effectiveness.
According to a Bangkok Post report, Somsak Akksilp, from the Department of Medical Services, says Thailand currently has around 2,000 beds for Covid-19 patients, adding that Bangkok can treat up between 230 and 400 patients a day, while the rest of the country has the capacity to treat 1,000 to 1,700 patients a day. He’s also confident there are sufficient supplies of both medication and equipment to treat Covid patients. Thailand is also producing the anti-viral medication, Favipiravir, which has been shown to alleviate Covid symptoms in some patients.
Meanwhile, Health Ministry permanent secretary, Kiattiphum Wongrajit, says the success of a reduced quarantine period will be down to how well the public continues to comply with health measures. He says he’s confident any second wave would be manageable if the public continues to co-operate with measures such as mandatory mask-wearing in public spaces, frequent hand washing, and social distancing.
Unlike some countries, Thailand has seen large-scale acceptance and adoption of such measures. The country is now desperate to repair its shattered economy, by kick-starting its dormant tourism industry. Although the government has approved a Special Tourist Visa to allow long-term tourists to return, many say the limit on numbers means the scheme will not have enough of an impact. It has also been criticised for the lengthy and expensive quarantine involved, which opponents claim will prove off-putting for tourists, who may opt to vacation elsewhere.
It remains to be seen how the Health Ministry’s push for reduced quarantine will go down with Thai citizens. A recent poll shows most are in favour of keeping the borders shut for now. At least one prominent medic has also warned against a reduction in quarantine.
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