Thailand’s Prime Minister has ordered various ministries and provinces to speed up vaccinations and preparations for boosting tourism while following pandemic restrictions.
The Prime Ministers order comes as a medical expert in Thailand have raised concerns over the possibility of the healthcare system having to battle with another outbreak. Especially if the government insists on reopening the tourism industry as early as Oct 1st, 2021.
Prime Ministers Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha on Wednesday assigned the Tourism, Public Health and Interior ministries to prepare for tourists in the high season of this year.
The ministries were instructed to find areas with the potential to be a part of the government’s new tourism reopening program called “Covid-free Tourist Area Sandbox”, similar to the Phuket Sandbox program, he said.
Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) said ideal provincial candidates for the tourism program include islands and areas with an airport. Furthermore provinces that have Covid-19 prevention and control measures in place.
Thailand Provinces opening to Tourists
The new phase of the tourism promotion program will begin in October, with four provinces — Chiang Mai; Prachuap Khiri Khan; Phetchaburi and Chon Buri all four provinces are due to reopen for tourism, Dr Taweesilp said. Bangkok’s reopening for inoculated tourists will be delayed by two weeks.
Kiattiphum Wongrajit, permanent secretary for public health, said a disease control team has been sent to Phuket to assist local health authorities to contain Covid-19 after the province began recording 200 plus cases of Covid-19 daily.
“The overall effectiveness of Phuket’s Covid-19 vaccination is also being assessed to determine whether a booster shot will be needed,” Dr Kiattiphum told the Bangkok Post in an interview.
Meanwhile, Dr Prasit Watanapa, dean of Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital cautioned the government saying the country is not fully ready to reopen given its low vaccination coverage.
Dr Prasit suggested the Prayut government should above all take into consideration a lesson learned by the Phuket Sandbox program. Warning that even fully vaccinated people can still catch the coronavirus and spread the virus to other people.