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Medical chief in favour of re-opening borders, calls zero cases target unrealistic

Maya Taylor



PHOTO: Erik Odiin on Unsplash

A senior Thai medical professional has confirmed he’s in favour of Thailand re-opening its borders, saying attempting to maintain zero cases of Covid-19 is “unrealistic”. Somsak Akksilp, from the Department of Medical Services, insists the country is adequately prepared in the event of a resurgence of the virus and, with no date set for vaccine availability, the country must move on.

“We cannot afford to maintain zero cases forever. We need to re-open the country. The country must move forward, and people have jobs to do. This means we may have to see a small number of infections, but if we work together to prevent them, the country will be able to achieve a balance between public health and the economy.”

Somsak is confident the nation’s hospitals have enough beds to treat Covid-19 patients if necessary, adding that the public can have faith in the country’s healthcare system.

“We have upgraded our medical system. We won the first round because of the trust between the people and doctors. We believe we will get through this.”

He was speaking as the Public Health Ministry seeks to reduce the quarantine period for foreign tourists to 10 days initially and, if that proves successful, to 7 days for arrivals from “low-risk” countries. However, Interior Minister, Anupong Paojinda, says more research is required before this can happen.

The chairman of the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation echoes Somsak’s claim that Thailand can handle a fresh outbreak of Covid-19. Sophon Mekthon says there are sufficient supplies of PPE and Thailand has the ability to produce more if necessary.

The Bangkok Post reports that the Department of Disease Control says it has the necessary manpower to control the spread of the virus. It’s understood the DDC plans to triple the 1,000 rapid investigation teams currently in place, in order to curtail any potential spread of the virus and reduce the death rate to below 1.4%.

Meanwhile, the arrival of Thailand’s first tourists in over 6 months, scheduled to take place in Phuket this week, has been pushed back. A group of 120 Chinese visitors arriving under the Special Tourist Visa scheme were supposed to land yesterday, but their much-anticipated arrival has been delayed, for reasons that are not entirely clear.

Officials have been vague on the delay, at one point blaming paperwork issues associated with the STV, but later saying the delay was to avoid deterring anxious Thai tourists from travelling to Phuket for the Vegetarian Festival. Yuthasak Supasorn from the Tourism Authority of Thailand insists the foreign visitors will arrive by the end of the month.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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  1. Avatar


    Friday, October 9, 2020 at 9:42 am

    Finally.. we see a break through.. Of course this is the most logic thing to do. We can not live in a bubble for ever. The rest of the world is moving on.

  2. Avatar


    Friday, October 9, 2020 at 9:47 am

    Finally, someone with common sense. Whether the idiot Prayut will listen or not is a different story. Probably not as he has his muppet doctor from the CCSA

    • Avatar

      Brian Dunbar

      Friday, October 9, 2020 at 9:53 am

      My sentiments exactly!! If this virus is going to be around for a long time, it is time to accept that and get things going again even though it may be too late.

  3. Avatar

    Issan John

    Friday, October 9, 2020 at 9:58 am

    I agree with him that “zero cases” has to be over-optimistic, and that there has to be a “balance”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean reducing quarantine.

    Thailand’s got it right so far and, for once, is showing that its policies are among the best in the world – let’s hope greed and the selfish few don’t betray that and cost people their lives.

    • Avatar


      Saturday, October 10, 2020 at 12:10 am

      How come so many Thais from sars-cov-2 free Thailand arrive in Japan testing positive for Covid-19? It cannot be that there actually is local transmissions going on? Might have been going on all the time since the first person outside of China tested positive for the virus in Thailand? The climate conditions in Thailand if very favorable in regards to corona virus survival.

  4. Avatar

    Don R

    Friday, October 9, 2020 at 9:58 am

    Sounds sensible, but I’ve lost all hope in Asia as a tourist destination in the near future. Even if borders opened by the end of the year, most of the dystopian policies, irrational fear, and distrust will remain for years. It simply won’t be a pleasant place to visit for many years.

    The damage is already done, and the fear of covid has been programmed into the population. Perhaps in a few years, a new crisis will grab people’s attention, and they’ll gradually start to forget about covid. Maybe an economic crisis that brings real hardship, as opposed to a flu virus that mostly effects the elderly…

  5. Avatar


    Friday, October 9, 2020 at 10:01 am

    they clearly say they sacrifice 1.4 % of their population for money, about 1 millions people, and it’s in the best case scenario. meanwhile 20% gdp lost will not kill 1 million people, it’s a sacrifice for the god of money, meanwhile their is banana, coconut, manioc, fish, wild chicken, and many other free food all over the jungle of the country, nobody starve here, this is motivated by money and pushed by the billionaires hotels owners who don’t care for a millions lives

    • Avatar


      Friday, October 9, 2020 at 1:00 pm

      They clearly say they have a plan to keep the death rate below 1,4%. That means that out of 1000 people with Covid a maximum of 14 people will die (1,4% is already high, they can go much lower still).

      You suggest *everyone* would get Covid, which is very unrealistic. That hasn’t happened in any country yet.

      • Avatar


        Friday, October 9, 2020 at 2:07 pm

        did i miss something or the virus has stopped spreading ? at the rate it mutate it will at one point reach everyone of us, because immunity will not happened. Unless a vaccine is found witch is highly unprobeable again because of the mutation rate of it. the famous french professor Raoult a world renown epidemiologist just said a few days ago that a new mutated strain with is much more aggressive has just been identified, their is a reason all those borders are closed, it’s not because polics are bad persons and enjoy make it citizen suffer like a lot of people claim, AND actually the global death rate is more close to 4%, witch would mean more than 2 millions thai people death, only thai governement comes with a make up number of 1.7%, based on what study ? are holidays more important ?

        • Avatar


          Friday, October 9, 2020 at 2:44 pm

          You make all kinds of doom assumptions. I can say it’s just as likely what we all because we are all killing the planet (not too many people seem worried about that).

          Professor Raoult said the new virus strain spreads more easily but the mortality rate is lower. That could actually be a good thing because maybe that way many people develop immunity against a more dangerous strain too (although I’m not sure about this).

          That 4% is completely false.

          “Fauci and other public health experts have since put the COVID-19 death rate at about 0.6% — six times that of a typical flu season — which is the latest CDC projection.”

          The number is getting lower and lower because the treatment is getting better and better.

        • Avatar


          Friday, October 9, 2020 at 9:00 pm

          You’re making the classic mistake of confusing case fatality rate with infection fatality rate.
          The infection fatality rate (I.e. people who get infected but don’t turn into a hospitalized case) has a lot lower mortality than even the 1.4% mentioned.

          The case fatality rate might be 1.4% but can’t be applied to the total population as only 30% (depending on the country’s age composition) of the total population would be at higher risk of becoming a hospitalized case…

          • Avatar


            Friday, October 9, 2020 at 11:36 pm

            CLOSED CASES
            28,849,016 Cases which had an outcome:
            27,779,592 (96%) Recovered / Discharged

            1,069,424 (4%) Deaths

          • Avatar


            Tuesday, October 13, 2020 at 6:27 pm

            Murika, you’re basically reinforcing my point with those numbers: they are CASE fatality rates, it says so in the name when you say closed CASES.

            The INFECTION fatality rate is much much lower than that

    • Avatar

      Albert Zweistein

      Saturday, October 10, 2020 at 5:25 am

      No nobody starve here but soon the banks will start knocking on doors to collect the unpaid loans for cars and credit card debts.

  6. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Friday, October 9, 2020 at 10:41 am

    They do not want tourists – that is up to them, but the property market will collapse.
    Investment will cease. foreign money will flee.
    They will become a pariah country, shunned by business.
    Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaya, and Laos, will take what was once Thailands.

    • Avatar


      Friday, October 9, 2020 at 11:10 am

      and the baht will collape??

      • Avatar


        Friday, October 9, 2020 at 2:59 pm

        It will as 1GBP will be at 50THB in the near future….

    • Avatar

      Don R

      Saturday, October 10, 2020 at 2:06 pm

      I agree that Cambodia, Laos, or Myanmar are well positioned to steal Thailand’s massive tourist market. However, this assumes they don’t share the irrational fear of the virus that Thais have.

      As for Malaysia, there’s zero chance they’ll open to tourists. Malaysia is already much wealthier than Thailand. Surveys show Malaysians have the highest level of Rona fear of almost any country in the world.

      Vietnam too seems unlikely to open, as fear of the virus runs deep there.

      IMO, Asia is finished as a tourist destination. They’re not backing down from the fear campaign, which means even when things open it will be an unpleasant place to visit.

  7. Avatar


    Friday, October 9, 2020 at 11:48 am

    In any case the coming high season and at least the next one are lost for Thailand.
    This brainless government has ample time to select comities, sub-comities, sub-sub-comities
    to design more moronic schemes that make our joy reading but will never work.
    Thailand is to be forgotten for international tourism for many years to come.
    Hotels, restaurants, retailers, manufacturers etc… will suffer countless bankruptcies,
    the economy will collapse, people will keep starving.
    And the zero case stupid and unrealistic objective will never be reached.
    Thai excellence !!!

    • Avatar

      Don R

      Saturday, October 10, 2020 at 2:10 pm

      Agreed. Time to look for greener pastures. And I think it’s long over due.

  8. Avatar


    Friday, October 9, 2020 at 3:47 pm

    can someone enlighten me on the following:
    during the so called corona time over 6 month,
    about 60 people have died and the country
    has closed all borders….yet in one weekend alone
    59 people died in raod accidents, but no closure
    of any roads, to protect people, has been ordered.
    if the death toll on roads accidents os by far greater
    then the death toll of influencia, why is the goverment
    not able to use the same meassures to ensure road safety ?

    • Avatar

      Don R

      Saturday, October 10, 2020 at 2:13 pm

      Because the media doesn’t hammer fear of traffic accidents into people’s heads non-stop for 9 month straight, thus people tolerate the risk and pack a whole family of 4 onto a 120cc motorbike.

      Same thing with tobacco which kills 7 million every year.

  9. Avatar


    Friday, October 9, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    How come? Running out of money? Remember only Farang dirty, not the money. The only places without Covid are a few island nations and North Korea, and of course Thailand. Nothing is low risk; ever crossed a street in Bangkok on foot? That scares me, not the virus.

  10. Avatar

    wendy rigotti

    Friday, October 9, 2020 at 10:15 pm

    we are in the usa and have been in lock down at home since we got back from Thailand in early march.we own a house in hua hin and are trying our hardest to get back. we have no problem with quarentine testing or down loading apps to phone .please let us back in.we have a large bank account in bank of bangkok and want to buy 2 scooters and a car as soon as we can .

  11. Avatar

    west tiger

    Saturday, October 10, 2020 at 1:18 am

    The country needs to open quick to save the economy and save the country

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