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Thailand News Today – Thursday, May 28

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Thailand’s Covid-19 figures

Today the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration has announced 11 new cases of coronavirus disease for Thailand.

All confirmed cases were reported as quarantined repatriates from overseas. This brings the national numbers to 3,065 confirmed Covid-19 cases.

1 was a 32 year old Thai woman, who returned from India last week. 6 other cases were aged 27-52 years and had returned to Thailand from working in Qatar.The remaining 4 cases were reported as male construction workers aged 39 – 51 who had been working in Kuwait.

Of the 3,065 accumulated cases, 2,945 (96%) had recovered with 14 more patients released over the previous 24 hours.

Fishermen abuse and slavery cases solved “off-the-record”

Many cases of alleged abuse and slavery at sea are not being reported to the Thailand government.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation did an analysis on the claims of slavery and abuse on Thai fishing boats and found that the majority of complaints are not documented with labour ministry officials who routinely solve issues “off-the-record”.

One Thai labour ministry official explained that they encourage the employer and employee to mediate before submitting a complaint, if the case is minor. Labour abuse complaints from 289 fishing workers lodged between 2015 and 2020, show that nothing was documented on the outcomes. But a lawyer acting on behalf of many of the regions undocumented workers said that many workers are afraid of taking legal action against their employers.

Low cost carrier Thai AirAsia ponders merger

The CEO of Thai AirAsia says it may merge with another low-cost carrier to avoid cutthroat pricing wars once flights resume after the Covid-19 crisis subsides.

He even admitted to conversations with other airlines saying that, if tourism doesn’t resume by July, TAA will be forced to begin laying off employees, downsizing the company and its fleet to keep its business alive.

Thailand has 7 low-cost carriers which has forced a vicious price-war in the past five years providing cheap flights for people flying in Thailand. The AAPA reports that in April there was a 98% drop in flights in Thailand.

Hope for overseas foreigners separated from families in Thailand

For weeks now, foreign nationals who normally reside in Thailand but find themselves stranded overseas due to the Covid-19 travel ban, have been pleading with the government to be allowed to return to their families.

Now, there may finally be some hope on the horizon. At least their plight is now being addressed, albeit in generalisations, by the CCSA as part of their daily briefings.

The Foreign Ministry’s Information Department says once the government has finished repatriating all Thai citizens, who wish to return home, they will look at doing the same for foreigners. But, initially, this will only allow work permit holders or those with a permanent residency permit to enter the country.

We should stress that nothing has been announced at this stage regarding the opening up of borders for returning foreigners and, as of now, the CAAT has closed all international airports to scheduled inbound flights until the end of June, except for chartered repatriation flights.

Central buys Family Mart Thailand

Shopping centre operator Central Retail Corporation has bought 100% of Family Mart, one of Thailand’s major convenience store chains.

CRC’s CEO says the acquisition will strengthen Central’s hold on the food market and convenience store business in Thailand, which continues to grow.

Yesterday’s acquisition saw CRC snap up the remaining 49% from the Japanese partner making it the sole owner of FamilyMart’s Thailand operations.

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Thailand growing more expensive for expats

Jack Burton

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Thailand growing more expensive for expats | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Business Traveller

According to Employment Conditions Abroad, Bangkok and Chiang Mai are among the 30 most expensive cities for expats in Asia. The capital of Turkmenistan might not spring to mind when with considering the priciest cities, but according to ECA International it ranks first on both the global and Asian tables, a 5 point rise up the rankings due to an ongoing economic crisis, food shortages and the resulting hyperinflation.

The survey is performed in March and September every year, based on a basket of items such as rents and utility fees. Car prices and school fees are not included.

In Asia, Bangkok ranks 28th, just above Chiang Mai, according to the latest ECA International survey on the cost of living for expatriates. But it dropped out of the top 50 global rankings from the report released in December 2019. In global rankings, Bangkok is now at 60 and Chiang Mai at 142. Bangkok has lost a good deal of its former appeal for budget-conscious travellers and expatriates, rising 64 places over the past 5 years, according to the survey.

ECA says a rapidly expanding economy and increased foreign investment, at least, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, made Thailand more expensive, fuelled by the strengthening baht.

“The baht has strengthened considerably, making the country more expensive for expatriates and tourists. However, this trend has slowed over the past year, partly in response to government attempts to weaken the baht in order to keep the country competitive.”

Hong Kong is the second most expensive city in Asia after Ashgabat (Turkmenistan), but ahead of Tokyo and Singapore. Singapore is rated the most expensive place for expats in Southeast Asia and has led that ranking for many years.

Hong Kong remains sixth in the global standings, 1 place ahead of the Japanese capital. Singapore was fourteenth in Asia, dropping 2 notches from the previous survey.

Ashgabat’s sudden rise to the top of the is largely attributable to the economic dilemmas of Turkmenistan’s government, according to ECA. The energy-rich Central Asian nation faces severe inflation, and a black market for foreign currencies has caused the cost of imports to rise. Both factors have sparked a large increase in the costs visitors pay.

The ECA says Chinese cities fell across the board due to signs of a weakening economy and poorly performing currency, even before Covid-19 began taking its toll.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

90 minute Covid-19 test at BKK being tested

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90 minute Covid-19 test at BKK being tested | The Thaiger

A Covid-19 test that takes about 90 minutes. This is a new ‘outside the box’ way at bringing people back into Thailand and checking them before they go through Immigration. The new ‘rapid’ tests were unveiled today at Suvarnabhumi International Airport. The new tests would be offered for overseas arrivals as the Thai government wrestles with the desire to reboot the tourism economy vs avoiding a second wave of the coronavirus.

Tourists have been locked out of the Kingdom since March and only this week saw the blanket ban lifted and a first phase of selected foreign tourists allowed to visit. Last year tourism accounted for about 11% of Thailand’s GDP, reaching nearly 40 million visitors.

Now, business travellers, diplomats and guests of the Thai government, visiting for less than 14 days, will be considered “fast-track travellers”. They are to be swab tested at Thailand’s main international airport entry points to ensure they are Covid-19-free before entry.

Suwich Thammapalo, an official of the Department of Disease Control, believes that the ‘rapid’ tests could be rolled out to use for other arrivals and tourists in the months to come.

But, no surprise, the test would cost 3,000 baht. The cost would be carried by passengers who wanted fast-track entry without spending 14 days in quarantine. It’s also required for other foreigners who have already been arriving – people with resident status or have a family in Thailand, plus international students.

Today the government’s Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration announced they are looking at a plan to open up the travel gates with reciprocal “travel bubble” arrangements with selected countries in September.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Hospital director proposes importing overseas Covid-19 patients for treatment

Jack Burton

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Hospital director proposes importing overseas Covid-19 patients for treatment | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Khaosod English

With the Covid-19 situation in Thailand apparently well in hand (there have been no locally transmitted cases for well over a month), a hospital director in Bangkok is proposing flying in patients from abroad for treatment at his hospital. The director of Mongkutwattana Hospital is considering medical flights to bring international Covid-19 cases to the hospital for treatment, in an effort to stimulate the economy.

In a Facebook post, Dr Rienthong Nanna said flights would carry 60 passengers and be specially adapted to prevent the spread of the coronavirus outside the cabin. Under his proposal, the hospital would act as a state quarantine facility, caring for foreign patients until they are certified virus-free and allowed to travel in Thailand as tourists.

The proposal has the support of several clinics that treat international patients. Accommodation providers who want to collaborate with the hospital to prepare medical flights and state quarantine are invited to contact the director of Mongkutwattana Hospital’s office.

The Ministry of Public Health Ministry has not announced whether Thailand will consider accepting Covid-19 patients from overseas.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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