The Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration is set to debate and then rule on the proposal by the Ministry of Public Health to cut the days for mandatory quarantine to 10 days from the current 14 days.
This was confirmed by Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul during a seminar on Friday. Mr. Anutin, who also heads the Public Health Ministry, told attendees of “Smart Living With COVID-19” that his ministry has prepared details of the proposal and are now ready for submission to the CCSA.
Despite concerns, Mr. Anutin continues to express confidence that 10 days of quarantine is enough to prevent COVID-19 from spreading with the sudden influx of foreign tourists. Quarantine measures should be partnered with strict implementation of disease control measures.
Speaking about the risk of infection not being detected before quarantine ends, Mr. Anutin said that the 10-day quarantine rule will only be applied to tourists from countries deemed by Thailand as “low risk.”
However, the CCSA will have the final authority on the matter.
“The ministry has experience and expertise and has plans to handle the next phases of easing of the lockdown,” Mr Anutin told seminar attendees.
Mr. Anutin laid out details of the government’s preparedness to handle any possible outbreak of COVID-19 from the gradual reopening of the country to foreign tourism.
For instance, the health ministry has access to nearly half a million tablets of the Favipiravir anti viral drug that has seen immense success in treating cases of COVID-19 globally.
There are also hundreds of disease investigation teams ready to conduct contact tracing and mass testing in the wake of a single infection.
Finally, there are specific and clear disease-control measures already decided before the government opted to reopen the country to foreign tourism through the Special Tourist Visa. Mr. Anutin said that the latter decision has been made after careful assessment of the national situation, with an eye for ensuring public health and safety.
He also said that health officials in the country have learned a lot from the early stages of the pandemic. There are enough manpower, medical supplies and facilities, and sufficient beds in various hospitals around the country allocated for the treatment of tourists infected with COVID-19.
Dr. Opas Kankawinphong, Department of Disease Control Director-General, backs the proposal up. According to Dr. Opas, 10 days is enough to see infected individuals develop frank systems. After 10 days, infected people are likely to be asymptomatic or with mild symptoms.
Dr. Opas said that the latter group is less likely to transmit COVID-19.
Of course, Dr. Opas said that minimizing the risk of infection requires strict implementation of public health measures as well as of an efficient tracking systems. Tourists and locals alike would also need to do their part by following social distancing and observing strict proper hygiene.
This debate comes amidst a rise in cases involving foreign nationals that have entered Thailand through other visa types. Two recent cases involved a Dutch man and his family who came via chartered flight to Phuket, and an Indian national in Krabi.