Health Ministry Reveals Efforts at Creating New Test Kits
Published: October 17, 2020 at 4:06 pm
Future tourists might yet be able to see shortened quarantine periods from 10 to 14 days.
The Ministry of Public Health has revealed that it is currently working on a new set of test kits that will help them shorten the quarantine period from 14 days to 10 days.
According to Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, the test kits will not require blood or tissue samples. Although he did not specify how the tests will work, Minister Anutin said that the new kits will be able to return a result in 3-5 days.
To ascertain the accuracy of its testing, the kits are currently undergoing trials. The results of these trials will then be presented before the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) at its next meeting.
Currently, test kits require the drawing of blood or swabbing of tissues from the nasopharyngeal tract. The rapid antibody test kits will look at the number of antibodies produced in the body and return a positive or negative result.
On the other hand, the swab test will analyze the tissue samples for traces of the COVID-19.
The 14-day quarantine has become a point of contention among the private sector and the government when it comes to the topic of reopening to foreign tourism.
While the CCSA imposed the quarantine period to prevent a possible second wave of infections once foreign tourists start coming to Thailand again, members of the private sector are stating that the overly restrictive measures are scaring away foreign tourists who might have otherwise contributed to the economy.
Even a poll conducted by the London Office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand showed that foreign tourists are reluctant to visit Thailand if borders are reopened, specifically because of the 14-day quarantine requirement.
The TAT acknowledged that only 6% of the 1,200 Londoners that they have polled in July have agreed to the quarantine requirement.
Currently, the 14-day quarantine is at the center of the requirements imposed by the Special Tourist Visa – the government’s flagship project in trying to bring back foreign tourism to Thailand, albeit in a limited capacity.
The Visa will bring in groups of 120 to 150 tourists at a time to stay in Thailand for at least 90 days and up to 270 days. Before they will be allowed to start their holidays, they will be required to undergo 14 days of quarantine at a government-approved alternate state quarantine (ASQ) hotel.
However, members of the private sector are slamming the Special Tourist Visa as being inadequate to bring the tourism industry back to fighting shape.
Foreign tourism is a major source of revenues for the tourist industry, and is considered an important growth factor for Thailand’s economy. As of 2019, tourism took up 12% of the country’s gross domestic product.
In 2019 alone, the industry earned THB1.93 trillion from tourism alone, majority of which came from the 39.8 million foreign tourists who visited Thailand that year.
This was 4% higher than the total number of tourist arrivals in 2018, in which Thailand welcomed 38.2 million foreign nationals to its shores.
However, tourist arrivals fell sharply after the government declared a lockdown on international travel in April.