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Samui tourism official calls for inter-provincial travel ban to flatten the curve prior to July re-opening

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Yavor Punchev for Unsplash

The president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui says the island is still pinning its hopes on a July 1 re-opening for vaccinated foreign tourists. Ratchaporn Poolsawadee remains optimistic, despite Thailand now battling a third wave of Covid-19, with Samui reporting 50 infections.

He says vaccines are being rolled out out on Samui, although a number of doses have had to be diverted to Covid hotspots elsewhere in the country. Around 30%, or 25,000 people, have already received 2 doses of the vaccine, with very few side-effects reported. However, the pace may slow as a result of some of Samui’s allocation now being sent to other provinces, in an attempt to curb the spread there. Ratchaporn says that once it receives a further supply of vaccine doses, the island has the capacity to administer 25,000 shots over 5 days, at 4 vaccination centres.

“We firmly believe that the vaccination process will be completed by June which will be in time for the re-opening plan.”

Until then, officials in the southern province of Surat Thani and on Samui itself, are strengthening disease prevention measures and travel restrictions. Ratchaporn is calling on the government to impose an inter-provincial travel ban to halt the spread of the virus. He says doing so would be more effective than closing businesses for 14 days, with the possibility of endless extensions.

The Bangkok Post reports that tourism operators are preparing tour programmes for the Samui Sealed Routes, whereby tourists would travel to sealed beach locations at Tham Rang in Angthong National Marine Park, as well as partaking in wellness activities such as yoga, meditation and spa treatments.

Before embarking on a “sealed tour” however, vaccinated foreign tourists would have to remain in their hotel rooms on the day they arrive. On day 2, they would be required to take a Covid test and, if negative, would be allowed leave the room and use other hotel facilities. From day 4, they would be allowed leave the hotel, with another Covid test on day 7. If the result is negative, tourists can travel around the island as well as elsewhere in the country.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Avatar

    luca

    Friday, April 30, 2021 at 2:51 pm

    I am sorry to disappoint the expectations of the president of the Koh Samui Tourism Association but even if they manage to vaccinate all the inhabitants of the island no tourists will come as long as there is a 7-day quarantine and the sword of damocles of the covid test of the Thai authorities, the opportunity to squeeze money from the madmen who believe in the government of the dictator is too good

  2. Avatar

    AC

    Friday, April 30, 2021 at 3:57 pm

    I don’t understand what the already vaccinated tourists are allowed to do after two Covid19 testing and four or seven days in a sort of prison hotel. Are they forced to follow like sheeps the nonsense Samui Sealed Tour or are they free to go everywhere in Thailand. Are they supposed to pay 500 bat for those health controls? Any news, please?

  3. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Friday, April 30, 2021 at 4:46 pm

    Too risky.
    As I have written before, they could find a tourist infectious by fraud, and then transport aforesaid mug to hospital where the tourist will endure daily operations, to remove money from the tourist’s bank account. In addition the cost of the Thai ambulance to hospital would make even a Phuket taxi driver green with envy.
    And this will happen even if the tourist is fully vaccinated, and had a Covid 19 within 72 hours of travel.
    There is no guarantees that this will not happen and no safeguards.
    Indeed it is likely. I would not believe a Thai if they said the sea was salty.

  4. Avatar

    Mr J.

    Sunday, May 2, 2021 at 6:25 pm

    If you’ve had the vaccine then that’s it, final. Otherwise it makes a mockery for taking it in the first place if you’re still subjected to all the testing and isolation.
    Sorry Thailand backward thinking officials, if you think this is the resolve for jump starting your tourism, you are totally mistaken….The resorts will remain dead until this all blows over, or the government comes up with a more reasonable and sensible approach.

  5. Avatar

    BJoe

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 8:54 am

    @luca – ABSOLUTELY CORRECT !

  6. Avatar

    BJoe

    Monday, May 3, 2021 at 9:03 am

    Tourist coming in vaccinated with the best vaccines to date, but then must still quarantine ? Then subjected to the haphazard Thai testing system administered by personnel vaccinated with suspected “homemade” vaccines of 2nd hand stuff from the CCP ? Who in their right mind would do this ?

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket red zone list adds Krabi, Trang, Ranong, Phatthalung

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: The Phuket checkpoint now lists 25 provinces as a red zone.

Visitors to Phuket from Krabi, Trang, Ranong, and Phatthalung will now have to prove they’re vaccinated or have a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of arrival, as they’ve been added to the red zone province list. People entering without those qualifications will have to take a rapid antigen test on the spot before being allowed into Phuket.

The 4 provinces join a group of 21 other provinces already on the Phuket red zone list requiring strict measures to enter. That list even includes Phuket itself, as people do exit the province have to prove a negative test or vaccination before being allowed to re-enter.

Phuket’s vice governor made the announcement yesterday after the governor signed the order and put it into effect until at least May 15th. That same order requires all trucks transporting goods to travel from 11 pm to 5 am, the nighttime hours that other people are not allowed to enter the island. Phuket recently closed its entry checkpoints from late night to early morning after reports of exhaustion from the health officials working to test everyone or verify their credentials.

Delivery drivers will also have to pass the same requirements as red zone province arrivals before entering Phuket. Any driver who does not have a negative test within 72 hours or proof that they’ve received both doses of a vaccine approved by Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration, will be forced to wait until the regular checkpoint opens at 5 am to receive a rapid antigen test.

Over 40,000 people from red zones have now been tested at the checkpoint to enter Phuket. In the first week of the requirement which began on April 22, health officials tested more than 22,000 people, overwhelming staff and prompting the government to close the entrance from 11 pm to 5 am to give checkpoint workers a break.

The 25 provinces currently classified as a red zone for entering Phuket are as follows:

Bangkok Nakhon Pathom Pathum Thani Rayong Suphan Buri
Chiang Mai Nakhon Ratchasima Phatthalung Sa Kaeo Surat Thani
Chonburi Nakhon Sri Thammarat Phuket Samut Prakan Tak
Khon Kaen Narathiwat Prachuap Khiri Khan Samut Sakhon Trang
Krabi Nonthaburi Ranong Songkhla Udon Thani

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

BMA admits Covid virus spreading fast in Bangkok, speeds up testing and jabs

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Stock photo via Flickr

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration says it is speeding up mass Covid-19 testing and inoculations in communities hit strongly by the virus, after admitting the virus is spreading fast in Thailand’s capital.

The city clerk says the administration, along with the Public Health Ministry and other agencies, are speeding up the collection of nasal swabs for Covid-19 tests, with a plan to test 3,000 people in high-risk groups per day. Those people deemed to be at an increased risk of the virus have been clustered by districts, with testing units in each of the 6 districts…

Laksi district, 70 Pansa Min Buri park in Min Buri district, Huai Khwang stadium in Huai Khwang district, under the Rama III expressway in Yannawa district, a public park under Rama VIII bridge in Bang Phlad district and The Mall Bangkae shopping centre in Bang Kae district.

The virus has been found in densely populated, low-income areas such as the Klong Toey community in Klong Toey district, Bon Kai community in Pathumwan district and Ban Khing community and The Mall Bangkae in Bang Kae district. In an effort to help those residents stay at home to prevent the possible spreading of the coronavirus, community-level organisations are teaming up to provide food, water, and supplements to those in the areas.

But stay at home orders are a problem for many as starvation is more frightening than the virus and 90% of residents in the slum communities still need to leave for work each day to keep food on the table. The daily average income for those in the slums is around 120 to 150 baht. The CCSA yesterday declared that is is focusing on containing major Covid clusters in 3 key Bangkok communities – the Klong Toey ‘slums’, Bon Kai in Pathumwan and Ban Khing in the Bang Kae district, on the west side of the Chao Phraya.

Today’s nationwide Covid update includes compiling the regional totals from yesterday, with a total of 27 new Covid-related deaths and 2,044 new Covid-19 infections over the past 24 hours. The numbers continue a statistically consistent rise in the number of Covid infections over the past 2 weeks.

Meanwhile, talking about Phuket’s plans to open in July, the Tourism and Sports Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, said yesterday that the number of new cases on the island must reach zero before the government can contemplate the ‘Sandbox’ plan for no-quarantine travel.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket visitor Covid-19 rapid antigen testing may end May 15

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Covid-19 rapid tests may be discontinued in Phuket. (via Wikimedia)

In a live broadcast, Phuket’s Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong said officials will consider discontinuing Covid-19 rapid antigen testing for people arriving into Phuket after May 15. The interview from the Phuket Check Point at Tha Chatchai yesterday seems to contradict a recent statement from the governor launching additional rapid testing from today.

Entry to Phuket since April 22 has been limited for travellers from red zone provinces, requiring proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test within the last 72 hours. Anyone arriving without either of these would be screened on the spot with rapid antigen tests. Though originally offered for 300 baht per person, controversy arose over Thailand’s 2-tier pricing as it was announced that testing would be free for Thai people and 500 baht for foreigners.

The National Health Security Office provided 40 billion baht for testing in Phuket, allowing free testing for nationals, but as that funding is used up, Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew announced that the testing will no longer be free for Thai people after May 15. Phuket does not have the budget for free rapid antigen testing so they will likely be forced to require payment after that date.

The current testing has seen a decline in positive Covid-19 infections, not finding any new cases for several days, prompting the government to rethink whether the current system of rapid testing those who are not vaccinated or holding a recent negative test certificate is worth the money spent.

Over 40,000 people have been tested since the program began April 22 until the current figures on May 5, with only 22 covid infections identified. Furthermore, 5 of those infections turned out to be false positives.

The vice-governor conceded that Phuket has Covid-19 outbreak problems with growing infections every day, but explains that the infections are from within the community and not from outside visitors. The latest infections stem in large part from gambling get-togethers without proper Covid-19 safety.

As of now, the rapid antigen testing will continue until the May 15 cut off, but government officials are still debating whether to continue testing and whether funding will exist for it after that date.

The NHSO has recently hinted that they will approve more funds to continue testing, a signal that had not been received before the governor’s announcement on Wednesday about the rapid antigen testing.

The vice-governor stressed that the situation is constantly evolving and that new information it’s shared frequently, and often out of local control. He urges everyone to pay attention to forthcoming announcements.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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