Thailand News Update | Reducing paperwork for incoming travellers

This Wednesday the CCSA convene for yet another meeting to consider both lifting persistent local restrictions, as well as reducing some of the paperwork and hassles for incoming travellers. For travellers, they will be looking for the scrapping of one or both the pre-paid PCR tests and accommodation when they arrive. New applications for the Thailand Pas have remained lack-lustre since it re-opened the Test & Go option on February 1. Meanwhile, the conundrum for the Thai government is the rising number of Covid cases, almost completely fuelled by the Omicron variant, which continues to surge around the country, notably around Bangkok, Chon Buri and Phuket. The high number of imported infections also continues to concern the government as they head into this week’s meetings. For restrictions, the bar and nightlife industry will be looking for a lifting of the official ban on their premises and a lifting of the 11pm alcohol curfew which remains in the Blue Zones… that’s most of the touristy provinces around the country.The Thaiger will bring you all the latest from Wednesday’s meeting as soon as it comes to hand.New Covid infections have been sitting above 18,000 per day for the past three days…. A full report at the end of today’s bulletin.

Thailand’s Marine Department has finally granted permission for Star Petroleum Refining to start repairing the ruptured underwater oil pipeline at the offshore mooring platform off Rayong province.The decision, after several days’ delay, was reached during an urgent Zoom meeting yesterday. The approved maintenance plan will consist of applying leak stopping compounds, pumping residual oil out of the pipeline and the use of special adhesive material wrapped around the two points of rupture in the pipeline. The deputy director-general of the Marine Department says that all the repair work must be done under the supervision of experts from abroad and representatives of the pipeline’s manufacturer.He also said that SPRC has prepared three response groups, one of which is responsible for laying five booms, each about 200 metres long, near the mooring platform. 10 vessels will be deployed to tow the booms to contain any further leakage of oil. Another vessel is equipped to trap submarine oil spills and pump it on board.Meanwhile, the Royal Thai Navy will place a vessel on standby to observe the repair and support operations, with 24 drivers available to provide support.There have been two other leakages of oil since the first one in late January. Thousands of litres of oil have landed on a few of the provinces beaches.

A Korean hotel executive was found dead in a a hotel in the main city district of Kanchanaburi province, in the west of Thailand, yesterday morning. The medical team hasn’t yet determined the cause of his death, and police say his body showed no signs of a struggle. The executive, Kim Kyoung Cheon, was 38 years old. The cleaner found his body after knocking on the door and finding Kim lying on the floor, not breathing. The cleaner ran to tell Kim’s sister, who told police. A doctor who examined Kim said he had been dead for six to eight hours before the cleaner found him. His laptop was still operating and it appears he had been gaming at the time. Kim’s body has been sent to Police General Hospital in Bangkok to be examined for the cause of death.

Following a female green turtle laying eggs on a beach in Phang Nga province last December, her babies have now hatched. The turtle laid 75 eggs altogether, and park officials confirmed yesterday that 66 had hatched where the brood headed straight for the ocean. Officials of the Lampi-Hat Thai Mueang National Park said they discovered the eggs had hatched last Friday. A park spokesman says the 66 baby turtle are in perfect condition. With a lack of tourists due to the government’s restrictions over Covid-19, sea turtles are thriving in some parts of Thailand. In 2020, 838 baby sea turtles hatched in Koh Samui, where their numbers had fallen drastically in the decade before. Empty beaches mean there is more nesting space, and new hatchlings are safe and free to waddle out to the sea after they hatch.

After Thailand and Saudi Arabia patched things up last month after decades of cold relations, flights from Saudi Arabia to Thailand will be available starting as early as next week. Thai International Airways also plans to have direct flights between Bangkok and Riyadh from May. Thai tourism authorities have set a lofty goal of 20 billion baht from an expected 200,000 Saudi tourists this year. That’s an average of 100,000 baht from each Saudi traveller. Thai workers are also being screened for jobs in Saudi Arabia. Prices for flights from Saudi Arabia to Thailand start from 12,850 baht.The two countries had a major breakthrough last month when they restored diplomatic relations 30 years after the infamous Blue Diamond Affair of 1989. That year, a Thai cleaner stole diamonds worth US$20 million from the Saudi royal palace while the prince and his wife were on holiday. The cleaner hid the jewels in places he knew no one would find them, and then shipped them in a cargo delivery to Thailand. Thai police eventually caught the cleaner, but strange things continued to happen.Saudi officials said 80% of the diamonds were missing, and the diamonds that had been returned were fake. Then a photo was published of a senior Thai official wearing a necklace that looked eerily similar to one of the missing Saudi necklaces.

Following last month’s arrest of 31 Burmese migrants trying to cross through Songkhla province into Malaysia, police have now caught a man suspected of trafficking them. Yesterday, police in Sadao district arrested Saiyid Ratdaewa after finding him in a house he was renting. Police say they found that Saiyid was a job broker for migrants seeking jobs in Malaysia. Police also found a pistol and 33 rounds of ammunition, as well as a pickup truck and a mobile phone. The alleged smugglers involved in the operation were Thai, Malaysian, and Myanmar nationals. The 31 migrants they tried to smuggle included 25 men and six women. Police found them hiding in a ditch on a rubber plantation in Sadao district, about one kilometre from the Malaysia border. Once transported from the Burmese border to Sadao, they had been told to wait for help getting across the border into Malaysia.

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