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Thailand Aiming to Declare Coronavirus Endemic Within 3 Months

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Thailand Aiming to Declare Coronavirus Endemic Within 3 Months

Following the recent lifting of some Coronavirus travel restrictions, Thailand is seeking a downgrade to endemic status within three months.

Thailand removed pre-arrival PCR testing last week in an effort to increase tourism. However, experts have warned that a spike of infections and public fear could prevent a smooth transition into an endemic.

Earlier this month, Thailand’s Ministry of Health announced that the Coronavirus pandemic would be considered an endemic disease by July.

Thai authorities continue to deal with a high number of COVID-19 cases dominated by the omicron variant, which reached a daily record of 27,071 case infections on Friday.

Vaccination rates are still high, which is a good thing. Since last year, Thailand’s public health authorities have administered about 127 million doses of the Coronavirus vaccine, including first, second, and booster doses.

Test & Go program

In October, Thailand opened its borders to tourism, introducing the Test & Go program, which does not require quarantine. As a result of the rise of new infections caused by Omicron, the government paused accepting applications in December.

Hundreds of thousands of tourists have entered since the scheme was restarted at the beginning of the year.

As a result of the conflict in Ukraine, arrivals from Russia, one of Thailand’s key markets, have declined.

Thailand’s government announced last week it would no longer require visitors to take PCR tests before arriving in the country in April, aiming to increase visitors from overseas.

Coronavirus pandemic

Thailand’s economy depends heavily on tourism. Tourism accounted for around 11% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and employed some 20% of Thais in 2019, according to the Bank of Thailand.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the economy contracted by 6.1% in 2020 but rebounded after an increase in exports and the return of tourists in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Despite being open to tourism for nearly six months, Thailand faces stiff competition from the region for inbound tourists. Recently, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia opened their borders to international arrivals, and Malaysia is set to follow suit in April.

However, restrictions are discouraging tourists from visiting Thailand. One PCR test is still required upon entry into the country, followed by a rapid antigen test on day five.

If any of the tests come back positive, visitors must undergo quarantine in a state facility.

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