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Heavyweight doctors oppose Phuket plan to admit tourists



PHOTO: Dr. Woratanarat - Thai Post
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A number of prominent physicians, some advisors to the Ministry of Public Health and the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, have posted on social media this weekend that they strongly oppose opening Thailand to tourists in any way, shape or form. Their concerns follow the government’s announcement yesterday of its plan to cautiously reopen the southern resort island of Phuket to a limited number of foreign tourists beginning October 1. The plan is approved in principle, but needs final approval from the CCSA and Ministry of Public Health, which largely comprise doctors.

Dr Thira Woratanarat, an advisor to the Ministry of Public Health, has previously called for borders to be closed for at least 6 months. Dr Prasit Watanapa, the dean of the faculty of medicine at Siriraj Hospital, has also repeatedly warned about reopening borders and allowing tourists in, saying the kingdom should wait for the virus to subside worldwide.

Both doctors are prolific Facebook users, posting daily advice, videos and warnings to their many followers, while advising the government.

Their most recent words of warning mainly concern the Ministry of Tourism searching for a way to bring back foreign tourists for the fourth quarter of 2020, high season for Thailand’s tourist areas and critical to the tourism industry. Especially in hard-hit Pattaya, Phuket and Samui, the peak months of December and January are critical to some business surviving the year.

Woratanarat posted that the government should delay all plans for at least 6 months and focus on self-sufficiency versus being reliant on foreign tourism. He’s consistently warned of the need for vigilance, while pointing to the examples of New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong, among others, who initially controlled the virus then had second outbreaks, leading to restrictive lockdowns and more economic pain. He’s firmly against the Phuket plan.

SOURCE: Pattaya News


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  1. Ken Scott

    Sunday, August 23, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    We have to learn to live with Covid and manage it sensibly without destroying the lives of people dependent on tourism.

  2. Mauri

    Sunday, August 23, 2020 at 2:57 pm

    Right the mad scientist face !

  3. Stev

    Sunday, August 23, 2020 at 3:05 pm

    Why a unelected doctor gets to make the decision to open phuket?

  4. น.ส ราตรี สุวรรณเกตุ

    Sunday, August 23, 2020 at 3:19 pm

    หากกลัวโควิคมากกว่ากลัวประชาชนบางคนอดยากจนตายก็ไม่ต้องเปิด เพราะทุกวันนี้ฉันก็จะอดตายอยู่แล้ว ทั้งไม่มีงานทำและต้องอดอยาก ส่วนคนที่มีฐานะปานกลางและร่ำรวยก็รอดไป เครน่ะเป็นอันว่ากระจ่างแจ้งแล้ว.

    • John

      Monday, August 31, 2020 at 5:35 pm

      “If you are more afraid of Cowik than some people are starving to death, you don’t have to open it. Because today I would have starved With neither work nor hunger But the moderate and wealthy survived. It is already clear.”

      Stay strong! I am sure, with people expressing this to their leaders, they will quickly change their minds about the situation and reopen for tourism. I wish you the best of luck and fortune.

  5. Toby Andrews

    Sunday, August 23, 2020 at 10:28 pm

    Yes he looks as if he is a heavyweight.
    Does he not know that the virus attacks persons that are over weight.
    If not he is not the big expert he claims.

  6. Pitt

    Sunday, August 23, 2020 at 11:16 pm

    first of all the Thais must remain silent,because they have no ability and knowledge. They are arrogant people, insolent and think they know everything, when in truth they do not know, that the whole world laughs at them. Example this doctor speaks of not opening borders, you notice his ignorance. Covid 19 is not a problem in Europe now, which it has solved easily. But Thira Woratanarat, not a doctor, is a stupid, he has to go back to school. Stupid people in a Thai school can’t make judgments. Today in Europe doctors from different nations have confirmed that few cases will always be there, is the law of numbers . And if the Thais wait for the world to have no more cases, then they will never open again. Incredible to think that a country that has lived only with the money that foreigners have brought it, are hated and rejected so much. Only in thai shit land. Thais who remember that Thailand is not a nice place like they believe! there are so many places much better where the tourist is respected and revered. Visa-free, without problems, and above all the law equals,not as in thai.also where the tourist has the same rights as the locals.How to buy the land that is not Thai but is of all the inhabitants of the world. If the Thais do not understand and become humble, the Thai will go bankrupt in a few months.

    • Teddy

      Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 3:07 pm

      Yeesh. You angry, bro?

  7. gary

    Monday, August 24, 2020 at 7:42 am

    His is one part of the government equation to decide what to do, of course he is being super-conservative, but that is not the total assessment, livelihoods and mental health of people without jobs should also be part of the equation.

    • Gary

      Monday, August 24, 2020 at 11:03 am

      I really believe that people will cope with this virus better when unstressed, happy, out in the sunshine with adequate vitamins and taking personal hygiene responsibility and not locked down, sad and stressed over losing jobs.

    • Clive Goodwin

      Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 4:08 am

      This being the problem worldwide. Unfortunately the scientists behave in a certain way. Their very nature means they want a conclusive answer to everything. This cannot always be done. All through this coronavirus outbreak, scientists have been asked questions, And often their answer is that there is not enough information yet. In life you sometimes have to make your best guess, but these scientists will not even do that. Consequently they only agree to open up the country when there are zero cases, An impossible event. This is the seventh coronavirus to affect humans, and there is no reason to not suspect that it will act in a similar way to its predecessors. These viruses peak after 40 days and die out after 70 days. Meddling with its natural course by locking people up just extends the range of this virus. Certain people are susceptible and it will keep going until it reaches most of these people. Those countries like Australia, South Korea,, Hong Kong, Japan, and New Zealand who are patting themselves on the back as having handled it right are finding out that these outbreaks will keep on coming until sufficient members of the population have been infected. They need to take their medicine And then get things back to normal. Just like influenza there will be outbreaks but you just have to live with it.

  8. Mike

    Monday, August 24, 2020 at 8:49 am

    Thailand’s economy won’t return to previous levels until tourism is back. Other countries have not contained COVID as well as Thailand. Tourist won’t come if the first two weeks of their vacation (especially if it is only 1-2 weeks long) require them to be in quarantine.

    Two facts and one assumption in an attempt to show that there is a choice to be made. Risk COVID or bring back the economy. The Doctor is correct – if you choose life over wealth. Unfortunately as the economy continues to decline well-being for the general population is deteriorating. Subsidies are truly beneficial but they don’t seem to be filtering down to those most in need. Subsidies need to be given to the most unfortunate if tourism isn’t restored otherwise health will suffer – even without COVID.

    • Brock

      Monday, August 24, 2020 at 10:18 am

      58 Dead over the course of (almost) a year, in a country with almost 70 million people…

      More people have died in Thailand slipping on noodles than Cooties-19… but yeah, let’s close the entire world down for “safety.”

      • Lough

        Monday, August 24, 2020 at 3:13 pm

        But I hear the number of noodle-related deaths have been severely under-reported in Thailand. How can I be sure it’s safe?

    • Mike Frenchie

      Monday, August 24, 2020 at 3:48 pm

      Which subsidies? The 5000 THB/month for the 300.000 who have been the fastest to register (there was no money afterwards according to some newspapers). Subsidies is what the US and most European countries are paying (i.e. full salaries).

  9. Todd

    Monday, August 24, 2020 at 9:14 am

    This “Heavyweight” doctor is a fool. Given the proposed controls and requirements for foreigners to enter Phuket in the proposed scheme, they would have to be double-, triple- tested an in quarantine for 14 days. How can that be risky? Particularly if confined to Phuket. This guy is going to get his monthly pay check no matter what… Unlike the tens of thousands in Phuket who are on the verge of bankruptcy, homelessness and even starvation. Look at that smirk on his face. Just trying to stir up press for his on image.


    Monday, August 24, 2020 at 11:33 am

    A miracle happens in Thailand. I left Thailand on 22.02.20 after 3 months holiday.
    During this 3 months Chinese people running around all over Thailand, and magical no infection?! The last day’s i spend in Bangkok crowded every where, no infection again.
    And in general a cov19 test is expensive, so no testing no cov19 seems thai logic.

  11. Graham Walker

    Monday, August 24, 2020 at 2:51 pm

    What about the thousands of expats who have properties in Thailand, have bank accounts with large sums of money in them as required by immigration, don’t they deserve the chance to return to Thailand ?

    The man’s an idiot.

  12. Justin

    Monday, August 24, 2020 at 3:29 pm

    To put this in perspective. Thailand’s roads with its lax driving rules and a general acceptance of drunk driving claim average 22,000 per year. That’s about 65 a day. They shut the country down for 6 months while thousands die from corona beer. Sorry but this is insane.

  13. Bobby m

    Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 2:39 pm

    There not listening peeps.

    As long as those making the decisions are not affected (the wealthy and the corrupt) I doubt very much anything will change and those people are not clever enough to grasp the fact that it will eventually affect them.

    I am afraid it’s that “up to you” attitude and cutting off their nose to spite their face. If it wasn’t so sad, it would almost be laughable that those very same people still believe the world will invest in them.

    Support your loved ones as best you can from where you are, look to remove your funds from the Thai banks if you can, cancel rental contracts and get the best price for any property you can. Find a new place in the world (there out there) that welcomes you and take your loved ones with you.

    They really are not listening and they don’t care.

  14. Nipral

    Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 11:44 pm

    Should Thailand not open without restrictions for the coming Xmas/New Year season it can forget international tourists for at least 10 years. High end tourists have multiple alternatives to choose from and will not easily come back to Thailand. Too bad !

  15. Ron

    Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 12:47 pm

    This guy is going to get his pay check regardless. Unlike the thousands in Thailand who are near homelessness, starvation and bankruptcy.

  16. Jim

    Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 1:03 pm

    I agree with the doctor. Thailand government has done a great job keeping covid contained. It’s to soon to open the floodgates of tourists. And the bubble idea being floated is ill conceived. Do it right the first time and there will not be a second wave.

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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.

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