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Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

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Confusion reigns today over if Covid-19 tests will be required for visa extensions.

While Phuket News spoke with an immigration official who said “no… you don’t need a Covid-19 test to extend your visa or apply for a work permit”, Khaosod English wrote an article headlined “Covid-19 test will be mandatory for all visa extension”.

The Thaiger also contacted a respected visa agent who said Covid-19 tests are now required for applying for both visa extensions and work permits including renewals.

The Thai Immigration Bureau has not made any official announcement regarding mandatory Covid-19 tests. Talk about Covid-19 tests for foreigners was brought up after a rule was published in the Royal Gazette last month, officially adding Covid-19 to a list of dangerous diseases, prohibiting those infected with any of the listed illnesses from entering the country.

Immigration Police Bureau spokesperson Archayon Kraithong told Khaosod English that proof of a negative Covid-19 test will be required for visa extensions, regardless of how long a foreigner has stayed in Thailand.

Medical exams are currently already required for most work permit applicants (including tests for Syphilis and Elephantiasis). A visa agent told The Thaiger that Covid-19 tests have been added to the medical examination requirements.

We’ll bring you any further clarification on that issue as it becomes available.

Research shows that online learning causes a 50% drop in mathematical comprehension, and a 30% drop in reading literacy among Thai students.

Research presented by the government’s Equitable Education Fund indicates that months of home-learning cannot match in-school study and in fact, can cause a deterioration in students’ ability. With schools currently closed in 28 Thai provinces, thousands of children across the country are joining in with online classes.

The EEF says home-schooling, with the use of screens, also has a negative effect on students’ mental health and their social and emotional development. The research, carried out by the Northwest Evaluation Association, echoes a study done by Massachusetts’ Institute of Technology, which demonstrates that learning through technology is no match for face-to-face learning in the classroom.

Home schooling has been shown to contribute to a decline in overall knowledge, as well as affecting access to quality nutrition, age-appropriate learning, and social experiences.

The EEF says online learning will only serve to widen the gap between rural children and those in the cities by about 2 years, potentially leading to economic disparity and fuelling a cycle of poverty for generations.

With the number of Covid-19 infections among migrant workers in Samut Sakhon failing to drop significantly, the PM is instructing officials to make sure companies are not still hiring illegal workers.

Prayut Chan-o-cha spoke to the deputy governor by video conference from Government House yesterday.

The central province of Samut Sakhon is considered the epicentre of Thailand’s current surge of Covid-19 infections, following an outbreak at the provinces coastal fish markets last month.

The resurgence is linked to migrant workers who were smuggled into the Kingdom illegally, bypassing health checks and the mandatory quarantine requirements. The companies are always seeking cheap labour for the competitive seafood market and have long flouted Thailand’s labour laws with hundreds of cases of forced labour and slavery coming out of the sector.

Samut Sakhon’s own governor tested positive for the virus and remains under hospital care, although he’s now off the ventilator.

As the devastating economic effects of Covid-19 restrictions persist, a record number of Thai tourism operators are quitting the sector for good.

The number of tourism companies surrendering their licences peaked last month, and around 70% of outbound agents have now shut up shop indefinitely. The final nail in their collective coffins has been the latest Covid-19 resurgence, which was detected on December 20 last year in the central province of Samut Sakhon and has now spread to over 60 Thai provinces.

The president of the Thai Travel Agents Association says around 10% of outbound tour operators have returned their licences to the Tourism Department. 2,598 tourism operators have left the sector for good, unable to survive having no international tourists for nearly a year now. The last quarter of 2020 also saw the highest number of companies de-registering, at 765. Of those, 293 quit last month.

Pundits predict that domestic tourism may pick up again by April, but this depends on how effective the government is at bringing the second wave of the virus under control. The TTAA adds, that with the arrival of spring in many parts of the world in the coming months, global infections may fall, but it’s still a waiting game.

The TTAA says that in 2019, 11 million Thai tourists spent 430 billion baht on overseas trips. Last year, that plummeted to 1 million spending only 50 billion baht, and most of that was in the first couple of months of the year.

In the midst of a new wave of Covid-19 infections, the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is expected to be approved for emergency use and injections could begin next month in Thailand.

The local roll out would start with vulnerable groups who are in the 5 coastal provinces under maximum control to contain the coronavirus – Samut Sakhon, Trat, Chon Buri, Chanthaburi and Rayong.

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve the vaccine for emergency use this week. The FDA is examining documents as part of the registration process and to declare the vaccine’s efficacy and safety.

Thailand had earlier secured 26 million doses of the vaccine, which is developed by British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and the UK’s Oxford University. The Thai company Siam Bioscience is also poided to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine. Injections for the general public are projected to start in the second half of 2021.

Thailand has also secured 2 million doses of China’s Sinovac BioTech vaccine. The first batch of 200,000 doses is expected to arrive in February. 800,000 more doses will arrive in March and 1 million doses in April.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    J West

    Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 11:38 am

    How does one get a Covid Vaccination shot when there is no Covid Vax available in the country? Persons here for ten years should be of no cern to government. Is the Thai government saying that all Farang must leave to get a shot and renter.

  2. Avatar

    J West

    Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 1:23 pm

    Addendum: Just called a professional, they know nothing about this. Confusion reigns. But, consider …after months of careful WFH isolation would the government really want to force us to expose ourselves in a dangerous public environment such as an open clinic or hospital where concentrations of sick people congregate? Mr Minister eating Sakhon seafood to prove it safe ended up with a ventilator tube down his throat. The idea that safe foreigners should be exposed to a sickness spread in local communities is frankly, insane.

  3. Avatar

    ANH LAM

    Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 9:08 pm

    Good point in reference as i am a farang as well and lived in this country for over 10 years. Us farangs always pay our way extra even while we pay taxes here. I also contacted several prominent Private Medical institutions that could would and will provide the vaccine to farangs at a cost. 3,500.00baht for the double doze. No bad! Here is the catch, waiting on government FDA approval. So here we go again, Hung Out To Dry.

  4. Avatar

    Timmytime

    Sunday, January 24, 2021 at 12:22 pm

    Since there is not one drop of vaccine in Thailand and it seems that it will be delayed for weeks, months too, how are we expats going to get vaccinated then and how much are we going to get scammed to pay one may wonder. Just a Covid test cost thousends of bahts for us already. Is Thailand aiming to be the last country on earth to start vaccinating or what???.

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Thailand News Today | Changes to quarantine, ‘adult content’ ban continues | March 5

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Thailand News Today | Changes to quarantine, ‘adult content’ ban continues | March 5 | The Thaiger

Thailand’s Public Health Minister is chairing a meeting next Monday, where a vaccine passport scheme and potential travel bubbles is on the agenda. Anutin says those who’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19 will be issued with a book to confirm their vaccination. It’s hoped this will make international travel easier, as well as boosting the public’s confidence and helping life return to some kind of normality.

In related news…. From next month, foreign visitors to the Kingdom will be able to experience the delights of “area quarantine”, after the government confirmed the scheme for 5 provinces. Following a meeting with the Public Health Ministry, the Tourism Minister confirmed that Phuket, Krabi, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri and Surat Thani, which includes Koh Samui, have been chosen to pilot the scheme.

P**nhub and other adult websites are remaining blocked in Thailand as they apparently “conflict with good morals for upstanding citizens”. The Thai Government says the websites encourage “poor moral standpoints and can affect youth in a negative manner”.

The Acting Minister of Digital Economy and Society and current Minister of Culture says that the decision that was made by the previous office holder will be upheld. The decision also includes keeping other popular adult websites blocked as the Thai Government has labelled them to be “obscene”. But the move to ban adult content has brought protests with those disagreeing saying such sites are a part of freedom of expression.

A houseowner in the central province of Ang Thong, central Thailand, has discovered 3 skeletons on his land that are thought to be over 3,000 years old. 54 year old Somkiat Briboon says this most recent discovery isn’t the first, as the first lot of bones was found last year after preparing his 17 rai plot of land to be rented out for sugarcane farming.

The Thai PM says he’s ordered an investigation into allegations that the military has been using fraudulent social media accounts to aggravate the ongoing unrest in southern Thailand. Facebook has announced the removal of 185 accounts and groups that it has accused of “information-influencing”, targeting audiences in the deep south of the country, where Muslim insurgents continue to fight for independence. The PM says he’s tasked the Defence Ministry with looking into the matter and explaining it to the public.

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Pro-democracy group to reach outskirts of Bangkok after almost 250 kilometre walk

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Pro-democracy group to reach outskirts of Bangkok after almost 250 kilometre walk | The Thaiger

A group of pro-democracy protestors, on an almost 250 kilometre walk, are expected to reach the outskirts of Bangkok today. The group has been walking for 17 days, starting from the Thao Suranaree statue in Korat province’s Muang district to protest the imprisonment of 9 pro-democracy demonstrators who are being denied bail.

The demonstrators imprisoned include 4 protest leaders from Ratsadon named Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, Anon Nampa, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk and Patiwat “Morlum Bank” Saraiyeam. The 247.5-kilometre march, named “Walk Through the Sky: Bring Back the People’s Power,” started on February 16. Jatupat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpattararaksa, from the student-led protest group Ratsadon, is leading the walking protesters and says they have been held in jail without bail since February 9.

The 4 are facing charges under Article 112, which prohibits lese-majeste, or the defaming of the Thai Royal Monarchy. Lese-majeste carries a jail sentence of 3 to 15 years. They are also facing charges of sedition under Article 116 of the Criminal Code, which carries a jail term of 7 years, as they are accused of organising pro-democracy rallies.

“The ignition and the fuel for the walk is simple. They have started to incarcerate our friends while denying their bail requests, which made it impossible for us to do nothing.”

The court has denied the demonstrators bail requests 4 times now, citing that their release would create more unrest.

Pai said he emphathises with the detained protestors as he has been imprisoned for lese-majeste before. He says he spent 2 years and 6 months in prison for sharing a BBC Thai’s biography of the monarch on Facebook.

“When I was in jail, there were people outside who were protesting for my release so now that my friends are in jail by an unfair law while being denied their right to political expression, I must come out and do something.”

“A walk is a type of a fight against injustice and we choose to fight this way in order to peacefully spread the words about police brutality, the uses of various laws to silence dissidents, the plights of the poor and the mismanagement of the government’s covid-relief measures and natural resources.”

The walk-in protest group is expected to reach Zeer Rangsit in Pathumthani around 5:30 pm today and will camp out near the department store before marching at the Bang Khen intersection tomorrow. On Sunday, the march is expected to end at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument.

SOURCE: Thai Enquirer

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79 new cases today-COVID-19 Update

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79 new cases today-COVID-19 Update | The Thaiger

Today, the Thai government is reporting 79 new cases of Covid-19, with 65 locally-transmitted, and 14 imported, raising the total to 26,241 since the pandemic began. 1 new death has been reported, raising the total amount of deaths to 85. The new infections, which are now in the double-digits, shows Thailand’s Covid situation as improving according to the assistant spokeswoman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, Panprapa Yongtrakul.

“The two-digit level of new cases found at hospitals and communities shows that the local Covid-19 situation is under control.”

The CCSA reports that 43 of the 65 local infections were found in communities with 22 of the 65 found in hospitals across 4 provinces.

Samut Sakhon province, the source of the second wave of Covid in the Kingdom, reported 77% of the new cases. Of the 50 cases found in the province, 38 were found in communities and 12 were found at hospitals.

Pathum Thani reported 8 new cases, with 3 being found at hospitals, and 5 in the community. Bangkok reported 6 new cases at hospitals and Chon Buri reported 1 infection found at a hospital. 12 of the 14 imported infections were quarantined arrivals from Russia, The United Arab Emirates, The United States, Slovenia, South Africa, Germany, Libya and Italy.

79 new cases today-COVID-19 Update | News by The Thaiger

The other 2 imported cases were that of Thai women, who ellegedly returned from Myanmar illegally through a natural border crossing in Tak province, despite the government closing off natural border crossings after the February coup by the military in Myanmar.

Covid-19 cases rose worldwide by 446,747 over the past 24 hours to 116.21 million. The worldwide death toll rose by 9,955 to 2.58 million. The US still has the most cases at 29.53 million, rising by 68,321 over the past 24 hours, and the most deaths at 533,636, rising by 1,993 over the last 24 hours.

In light of the recent downturn in reported cases, Samut Sakhon has recently reopened 22 of its wet markets. However, the seafood market where the second wave of the Covid outbreak began, is not one of them, and it is not yet known when that might reopen.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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