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Thailand’s Public Health Ministry said yesterday that academics have expressed concerns over the government’s plan to reopen the country to fully vaccinated international tourists starting October 1st, 2021.
The reopening of the Country is in line with Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s June pledged to welcome fully vaccinated tourists within 120 days. However, now some health critics and including academics, have said the Prayut government may be acting too swiftly.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said yesterday that medical experts and the Department of Disease Control (DDC) must decide whether the country is ready to reopen.
The matter cannot be rushed as information on the covid-19 situation and risks must be thoroughly addressed, he said. He also told reporters that the government is ready to lend its full support.
He went on to say we cannot reopen yet because we must investigate data and make a proper assessment.
“Who said Thailand would reopen”
The severity of the Covid-19 delta variant situation in foreign countries from which which prospective tourist may depart from must be taken into account, he said.
“If Thailand is not ready, the reopening will not be possible,” Mr Anutin said. “We must look at all the data first.”
Responding to reporters that the Oct 1st reopening of Thailand may be premature, Mr Anutin said: “Who said the country will reopen on Oct 1?”
Meanwhile Thailand’s Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said Wednesday that more than 70% of residents in Bangkok had been given their first Covid-19 vaccine jabs, while 38% were fully vaccinated.
Minister Phiphat said Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang and public health officials agreed most Bangkok residents are still waiting for their second shot and these shots cannot be administered to them by Oct 1st.
Because of this the proposed reopening time for Bangkok would be postponed till Oct 15. Above all because the capital is expected to have administered second vaccine shots to 70% of its residents by this time.
Need for a fully vaccinated Kingdom
Minister Phiphat went on to say that all 50 districts in metro Bangkok will reopen to vaccinated international tourists after 70% of Bangkok residents have receive their final vaccine shots.
Mr Phiphat also said workers in the service industries and public transport must receive two vaccine shots.
If these people aren’t fully vaccinated, they risk spreading the coronavirus to tourists foreign and domestic who use their services, he said. Adding that the Tourism Authority is now ordering operators of taxi cooperatives to issue vaccination certificates to all its fully vaccinated drivers.
Under the plan to reopen Bangkok to fully vaccinated international tourists, all 50 districts of the capitol will be reopened, including Din Daeng and Huai Khwang. He said some of these districts have infection clusters, however health authorities are confident existing containment measures are in place.
Mr Phiphat said Phuket Sandbox has been a success despite around 200 new covid-19 infections daily. Furthermore there have been no reports of local residents spreading the virus to international or domestic tourists or vice versa.
He told reporters that four provinces; Chiang Mai, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phetchaburi and Chon Buri are scheduled to reopen to vaccinated to International tourists on Oct 1 as planned.
Meanwhile, Dr. Thira Woratanarat, an associate professor at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Medicine, posted a message on his Facebook page on Thursday, warning against the the governments reopening plan.
He said the number of new covid-19 delta variant cases in Thailand remained very high. He worried that international arrivals could bring the virus with them into Thailand. Even if they are fully vaccinated, they can still contract the virus during their trip to Thailand, he said.