THAILAND’S main COVID-19 task force will meet this weekend to review the termination of the quarantine-free entry program for visitors who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus (COVID-19). The policy will be taken by Thailand amid an increase in cases of the new Omicron variant from foreign travelers.
Thai government spokeswoman, Traisuree Taisaranakul, said the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration led by Prime Minister (PM) Prayuth Chan-Ocha will hold the meeting on Friday (1/07) to review visa rules.
Quoted from the Bloomberg website, Wednesday (1/05), the country’s Ministry of Health has recommended extending the suspension of the so-called ‘Test & Go program’ for travelers who have been vaccinated and come from more than 60 countries until January 31, 2022. announced on 21 December 2021 it lasts for 14 days or until further announcement.
With omicron tensions fueling a spike in cases in the United States (US) and the European Union (EU), the restrictions have the potential to derail a recovery in Thailand’s tourism sector, which accounts for a fifth of the country’s pre-pandemic economy.
Meanwhile more than 350,000 travelers entered the country through the quarantine exemption program. Since the quarantine release began in November 2021, imported cases accounted for more than 50% of Thailand’s 2,062 Omicron cases.
Thailand targets COVID-19 to become endemic by 2022 by resuming normal activities, increasing immunization through booster doses and reducing hospitalizations.
As stated by the Director General of the Thai Department of Disease Control, Opas Karnkawinpong on Tuesday (1/04) yesterday, the Southeast Asian country’s ‘living with the endemic COVID-19’ strategy marks a shift from a ‘zero-COVID’ approach in 2020 and a blue print of ‘learning’. to live with COVID’ in the last year.
Foreign travelers can still enter Thailand through the Phuket sandbox program, a different quarantine-free entry process that requires visitors to spend the first week on the island before traveling to other parts of Thailand.
Thailand has seen new cases of COVID-19 drop to 6-month low following months of restrictions on mobility and business and an increase in vaccination programs. The country reported 3,091 new cases and 12 deaths on Tuesday (1/04), bringing its cumulative caseload to 2.2 million.
Currently, Thailand is increasing the rollout of booster injections among its population as only about 10 percent of its 72 million population have received booster doses and about 64% have received at least two injections. [sources/photo special]