In a global Covid-19 immunization campaign, China has sent vaccine doses to Thailand to have Chinese citizens inoculated under Beijing’s “Spring Sprout” programme. A vaccination site under the programme is already up and running in Bangkok.
The Associated Press says China had donated 500,000 doses, and Thailand then agreed to vaccinate Chinese expats. Around 150,000 Chinese nationals live in Thailand. “Spring Sprout” launched in March and so far, more than 500,000 Chinese nationals in more than 120 countries have been inoculated, according to the country’s official People’s Daily newspaper.
While China is now providing vaccine doses to those overseas, Thailand has been slow to roll out its national vaccination campaign with only 1% of the country’s 70 million people fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Thailand has been working to accelerate vaccinations as the latest wave of Covid-19 infections hits record highs, with 90,722 confirmed cases and 609 virus-related deaths recorded since April 1.
With a limited number of vaccine doses, the Thai government first focused heavily on mass vaccination campaigns in Phuket and Koh Samui, islands said to be of “economic significance” and are to reopen to vaccinated foreign tourists under sandbox travel schemes. But with the recent outbreak, said to be caused by a more contagious variant, the Thai government is focusing on vaccinating those in high risk areas, especially overcrowded prisons, to help contain the outbreak.
Migrants who work in crowded conditions where Covid-19 can quickly spread will be vaccinated in early stages of the campaign. There are about 1.3 million legal migrant workers in Bangkok and an estimated 1 million migrants who are undocumented and entered illegally.
No official vaccination plan in Thailand has been set for the roughly 200,000 other foreigners in Thailand from countries such as Australia, Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Some expats who work in Phuket and Koh Samui, where the vaccination campaign has been accelerated, have either registered for a vaccine or have been fully inoculated already.
Some American groups in Thailand, like Democrats Abroad Thailand, have been pushing for the US government to send vaccine doses to inoculate American expats.
SOURCE: Associated Press
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