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Thailand’s Health Ministry wants to reduce tourist quarantine to 10 days

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Phuket Airport Health Control / Facebook

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.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand | Bangkok Post

 

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    31 Comments

    31 Comments

    1. Avatar

      EdwardV

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 10:14 am

      It’s a nice start but for most tourist it’s still to long. The average tourist only spends 2-4 weeks on vacation. Therefore any level is quarantine is probably too much and will just go somewhere else. If Thailand can’t see their way to lower it to no more than 2-5 days, they will never draw the numbers they desire. I’m not saying they should lower the number, just there is a limit to what most tourists will accept. Keeping in mind most tourists think of a quarantine as money wasted and vacation days lost.

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 2:45 pm

        “Therefore any level is quarantine is probably too much and will just go somewhere else”

        Your point’s very fair (unusual here), but where else will tourists go?

        Where?

        Take a look around and there simply is nowhere else comparable that has less restrictions, less than 14 days quarantine, etc.

        Vietnam, Cambodia, Japan, Taiwan, etc … all either require 14 days quarantine plus hefty deposits and insurance cover, or they don’t let tourists in at all.

        There are plenty of people here saying they’ll go elsewhere, but nobody’s suggested where!

        • Avatar

          EdwardV

          Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 3:49 pm

          Actually there are a lot of places, just none of them in SE Asia. For example: mexico is open, in fact never closed. Much of the Caribbean is open, places like arugula, Aruba , Bermuda, Jamaica Puerto Rico, St Barts and St Martin to just name a few. The Maldives is open. Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica along with a few other central and South American countries are open. French Polynesia is open (Tahiti and Bora Bora). Hawaii will open on the 15th , in fact the USA is open to most of the world the main exceptions being China and the EU. All places that don’t require a quarantine and are comparable. Of course there are other countries too, places in Africa , the Middle East like Dubai and Egypt, and Europe like Croatia and Serbia are also open.

        • Avatar

          Mike

          Tuesday, October 13, 2020 at 9:00 am

          I think most people will be happy to wait it out. In Hong Kong where hotels are also mostly empty (but where the economy doesn’t rely on tourism) flush Hong Kongers are taking staycations in 5 star hotels.

    2. Avatar

      Nipral

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 11:05 am

      Even 1 hour is not acceptable for normal, physically and mentally sane tourists.
      Forget about Thailand !
      We have a wealth of alternatives to choose from, and our plans are made.
      Sad for the starving people there.

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 2:19 pm

        “We have a wealth of alternatives to choose from, and our plans are made.”

        Really?

        Where, exactly, are the “wealth of alternatives”?

        WHERE?

        • Avatar

          Covidiot

          Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 3:52 pm

          How about – Miami or Hawaii or Las Vegas or Dominican Republic or Acapulco or Cancun or Tulum?

    3. Avatar

      Fabian

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 11:21 am

      I did the 14 days quarantine (which is actually 16 days if you count the arrival and departure date) and I can tell you it’s a nightmare. I never want to do that again.

      Reducing quarantine to 10 days is a start, but I think they should completely change the quarantine concept.

      Let for one specific quarantine hotel all the guests arrive on the same day. Not on different days like they do now. Then you will be able to give people more freedom.

      Then you seal off the area around the hotel but people can go everywhere inside the hotel, like in the swimming pool. People can meet and talk with each other.

      If you allow that in the current setup you can have this: I have two more days left in quarantine and someone else arrived yesterday but starts to develop and spread Covid today. I get Covid from this person and in two days I leave and spread it outside.

      You don’t have this issue when all the guests check in and out at the same time. It’s a bit more logistics but not that hard.

      Then allow people to order things from the supermarket. It’s a small convenient add-on that makes life in quarantine a bit more pleasant. But it wasn’t possible for me in quarantine.

      You can arrange scheduled trips to the beach or some other cultural thing,

      It all makes the quarantine feel more free and more like holiday. Then people might actually say: hey, let’s go to Thailand!

      • Avatar

        R

        Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 11:47 am

        “I have two more days left in quarantine and someone else arrived yesterday but starts to develop and spread Covid today.” – How did you get COVID if you follow the current policy by staying inside your room?

        Your idea is nice. However, until the Thai health department can come up with a solid procedure on how to handle tourists, Thai citizens should not be put at risk just to please tourists.

        • Avatar

          Mike Frenchie

          Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 1:22 pm

          Tell that to the 20% of the people living directly or indirectly from tourism… you plan to feed them?

          • Avatar

            Issan John

            Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 2:37 pm

            20% of Thais are NOT “living directly or indirectly from tourism”.

            This is a complete fallacy and totally untrue.

            10 to 20% of Thai GDP is estimated to come from tourism and related industries, indirectly – that’s a totally different thing to 20% of Thais depending on it.

            This is simply totally untrue.

            • Avatar

              Mike

              Tuesday, October 13, 2020 at 9:05 am

              Yes, Issan Joh is right here. You have to take into account the massive wealth gap in Thailand which is one of the biggest in the World.

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 2:29 pm

        “Then you will be able to give people more freedom.

        Then you seal off the area around the hotel but people can go everywhere inside the hotel, like in the swimming pool. People can meet and talk with each other.”

        Nice idea, but you’re completely overlooking the crucial factor of the hotel staff.

        How do they remain “Covid free” when they go home and go out every day?

        Or are they also quarantined for the same 14 day period, and if so where?

        Sorry, but it’s simply impossible.

        • Avatar

          Fabian

          Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 4:10 pm

          There are two options. One is they don’t go home every day but stay also in the hotel. It’s not very nice maybe, but at least it pays.

          The other option is that staff wears proper protection against Covid and is allowed to go home.

          Look, there are already many holes in the system. When I arrived in Bangkok there was A LOT of staff. More than people arriving. This greatly increases the chances of one getting infected by someone arriving. And I was actually most shocked that the medical staff behind the counter (who had to some medical reporting) was in contact will all the visitors but wearing just a standard medical mask. No plexiglass or special suits.

          Then at the quarantine hotel we were from day 7 actually allowed to visit the rooftop for 40 minutes a day, encountering staff and other people.

          Apparently the system works good enough but again it’s not bullet proof.

          • Avatar

            Issan John

            Friday, October 9, 2020 at 11:16 am

            “There are two options. One is they don’t go home every day but stay also in the hotel. It’s not very nice maybe, but at least it pays.

            The other option is that staff wears proper protection against Covid and is allowed to go home.”

            The sad and rather frightening thing is that you clearly think so little of Thais that, despite having had the obvious massive flaw pointed out, you’re serious.

            With your first option they’d be continually exposed to the risk of Covid-19 from those quarantined, then forced to “also stay in the hotel” in crowded, dangerous conditions indefinitely, 24 hours a day, for months on end until a vaccine is found or better tests developed.

            … and your view is that that’s “not very nice maybe, but at least it pays”.

            With your second, they’d have to wear the same level of PPE as hospital staff in a quarantine ward, while doing a job for hours which would be so physically demanding it would lead to collapse.

            All just so you can have a relaxing stay in a hotel, enjoying yourself, for a fortnight.

            Shameless, even disgusting, doesn’t begin to describe an attitude like yours.

    4. Avatar

      Fabian

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 12:40 pm

      “How did you get COVID if you follow the current policy by staying inside your room? ”

      You don’t get what I mean. By setup I mean people arriving at different moments. If everyone arrives the same days then you don’t get the situation where one leaves with Covid he got from the person who arrived just a day ago.

      “Thai citizens should not be put at risk just to please tourists.”

      That is YOUR opinion. First, it’s not just to pleasure tourist but to allow the Thai people to make money and survive. Second, in MY opinion the cure is currently worse than the disease. And out of proportion when you compare it to the number of road kills.

      There is no bullet proof solution against Covid, just risk assessment. If the Thai people decide to do everything to keep Covid out it’s their decisions of course. The question is how long are they going to survive like that? Any system to allow people back into the country brings some risk to spread Covid again.

      • Avatar

        Mike Frenchie

        Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 1:26 pm

        The funny part is that the vaccine will never been 100% effective (it is a virus – like the flu or HIV that have never been controlled). What is Thailand going to do? Closing the country forever?

        • Avatar

          Issan John

          Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 3:03 pm

          Very true, but surely the solution doesn’t depend on a vaccine:

          – how do you really know if visitors have been vaccinated?

          – can someone vaccinated still be a carrier? etc, etc

          Surely the solution to importing the virus depends on improved testing?

          If more accurate tests are developed, then that negates the need for quarantine – QED.

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 2:51 pm

        “If everyone arrives the same days then you don’t get the situation where one leaves with Covid he got from the person who arrived just a day ago”

        Arguably not, but if quarantined tourists are free to roam the hotel, how about the staff who they’re around who leave with Covid they got from them?

        How can you not see that?

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 2:56 pm

        ” “Thai citizens should not be put at risk just to please tourists.”

        That is YOUR opinion …”

        Unbelievable. No wonder you didn’t consider the Thai staff in your suggested solution to the quarantine issue.

        • Avatar

          Fabian

          Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 5:50 pm

          If you read my comment at 4.10pm you see I do consider the Thai people Mr. I-know-Everything-Better-Than-Others.

    5. Avatar

      Tom

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 3:06 pm

      Stop worrying about the quarantine period, and start focusing on the main problems preventing people from entering – The bureaucracy, the red tape and the costs just to get permission to enter.
      What is the amount of money actually spent in the community by the people who can afford to charter flights Vs those that come in on scheduled flights.
      How many people would be prepared to come in, at a funnelled rate (especially under the new STV) if they could just get their tests, insurance, book their ASQ and flight and then figure out the rest of their trip once free?

    6. Avatar

      Issan John

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 3:13 pm

      Yesterday, fifteen arrivals tested positive for Covid-19.

      6 after 11 days (they had almost certainly caught it in-flight), and one after 13 days.

      That alone should show why a 14 day quarantine period is so necessary given the current quality of testing available, regardless of whether the country of departure was high or low risk – which completely ignores those playing the system and stopping over in a low risk country.

    7. Avatar

      Issan John

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 3:33 pm

      “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. ….. if the public continues to co-operate with measures such as mandatory mask-wearing in public spaces, frequent hand washing, and social distancing.”

      Worrying, to put it mildly, if the permanent secretary at the Health Ministry is unaware that “mask wearing in public spaces” is NOT mandatory except in certain provinces and areas, as is social distancing even in government hospitals.

    8. Avatar

      Thomas

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 4:59 pm

      We should, we need, we could, we think…. How about we do? Other countries manage the situation without all the drama and nobody dies.

      I spent already 10 months in the desert on a military base and I want to go home.
      Anyone of you pussy’s complaining about 14 days in a hotel need to come out of your golden cage. I swap immediately if the hardship of getting home is to hard.

    9. Avatar

      Hugh

      Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 10:20 pm

      Just for people with family here really

    10. Avatar

      Belle

      Friday, October 9, 2020 at 9:08 am

      It was just on the news that several cases from Tuesday tested positive on their 11th day in quarantine… and now this?!

      Look up Bangkok Post: “They were quarantined in Samut Prakan province and their infection was confirmed by their second test on Sunday, 11 days after their arrival.”

    11. Avatar

      Issan John

      Friday, October 9, 2020 at 10:15 am

      Hardly “comparable” in terms of either cost, facilities, safety, or the numbers of tourists they can handle and the market they’re aimed at.

      While they’re undeniably “open” they’re simply in different leagues, either priced way beyond mass tourism or without any of the safety and security that SEA offers.

      Realistically, none are options for more than a tiny fraction of the 40 million tourists that came to Thailand last year or the tens of millions that went elsewhere in SEA.

    12. Avatar

      Issan John

      Friday, October 9, 2020 at 10:51 am

      “How about – Miami or Hawaii or Las Vegas or Dominican Republic or Acapulco or Cancun or Tulum?”

      How about them?

      What appeal do they have for the near 40 million tourists who visited Thailand last year and the tens of millions who went elsewhere in SEA?

      A tiny fraction may well go to those places instead, but for the vast majority they’re simply not an option even if they could handle the numbers which is an impossibility.

      All the realistic alternatives to Thailand have the same restrictions or more, for the same reasons.
      Suggesting that Thailand’s tourists will go elsewhere is simply an empty threat – there’s nowhere else for the vast majority to go.

    13. Avatar

      Issan John

      Friday, October 9, 2020 at 11:40 am

      “If you read my comment at 4.10pm you see I do consider the Thai people Mr. I-know-Everything-Better-Than-Others”

      I read your “comment at 4.10 pm” and, rather sadly, saw what “consider the Thai people” to be.

      You suggested that they should be either:

      1. Confined to living in squalid, cramped conditions in your hotel indefinitely, 24 hours a day for months until either a vaccine is found or better tests developed, while when working exposed to those who are quarantined without protection…

      or

      2. Be forced to do their jobs while wearing full PPE as for a hospital quarantine ward, which would push anyone doing so to physical collapse.

      … and you think that’s “not very nice maybe, but at least it pays”.

      All so you can enjoy your fortnight in a hotel.

      Thais aren’t slaves anymore, even though that’s all too clearly all you “consider the Thai people” to be.

      I don’t think I “know-everything-better-than-others”, but I know enough to recognise people like you as a selfish disgrace to humanity.

    14. Avatar

      Mike

      Tuesday, October 13, 2020 at 8:58 am

      It’s a brilliant idea. Reducing the number of days travellers need to quarantine from 14 to 10. Neat. That’s what we call “blue sky thinking”. Now, when people come to Thailand for their annual 14 day holiday they’ll have a full 4 days to go wherever they want. probably. Minus travelling time obviously.

      Then on their return all they will need to do is take another two weeks unpaid leave to quarantine when they get home.

      Tourists will definitely come now.

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