The government of Thailand has suspended approving new Test & Go and Sandbox entries, except for the Phuket Sandbox, but will let those already approved arrive as scheduled, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Prayut, who presided over a meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) at Government House, explained that the resolution is based on fear of the spread of Omicron and an aversion to public safety.
It was announced by the Prime Minister that almost 200,000 travellers had applied for entry through the Test & Go and Sandbox schemes, and about 110,000 had already arrived.
A further 90,000 have already been approved through the Test & Go and Sandbox entries, and they will be allowed into Thailand under those programs. Their health will be monitored upon and after arrival.
According to Prime Minister Prayut, there will be no new approvals for arrival schemes until the Omicron situation is reviewed on Jan 4, 2022.
It is reported that he was assured resources would be adequate. In addition, he was told health personnel were capable of handling an outbreak of Omicron that might arise from approved applicants still in transit.
Prime Minister Prayut said that even though the Omicron variant spreads quickly, its symptoms are easily controllable and the treatment is straightforward.
He said quarantine would be fully restored for arrivals once Test & Go and Sandbox entry options have been suspended.
Depending on the country of origin and vaccination status, quarantine periods will last seven or ten days.
The Sandbox program is open to all foreign visitors, while the Test & Go program is only for visitors from specific countries. Before entering Thailand, all arrivals through the programmes are required to receive full vaccinations and test negative for Covid-19.
Besides the suspension of the Test & Go program and the Sandbox entry program, the CCSA did not resolve any other changes regarding the Omicron situation, Gen Prayut said.
Dr Kiatiphum Wongrachit, permanent secretary for public health, has announced that all entries for Test & Go and Sandbox, except Phuket Sandbox, will be suspended from Dec. 21 to Jan. 4.
He also said the last of the previously approved arrivals via Sandbox and Test & Go will arrive on Jan 10.
Based on a Covid-19 infection rate of 0.1-0.2% among visitors, Dr Kiatiphum predicted about 100 Covid-19 cases among the total 200,000 visitors arriving through the Sandbox and Test & Go programs.