Amidst calls from the private sector, the government has announced that it might cut down the current alternate state quarantine duration by half. However, it would only be for countries that are considered as “low risk” by the Royal Thai government.
In a statement issued over the weekend, the Department of Disease Control’s deputy director-general Tanarak Plipat said that the Ministry could reduce the quarantine period for 7 days for tourists from countries deemed as low risk.
Mr. Tanarak also defined what the government views as low risk, and specified that the term applies only to countries with an infection rate of only 0.2% for every group of 100,000 visitors. Although he did not specify how the government arrives at the infection rate and what data it is based from, Mr. Tanarak cited a comparison between the infection rate of China, and Saudi Arabia.
According to the DDC official, China has an infection rate of 5 per 10,000 visitors while Saudi Arabia has 8 tourists per a group of 100 carrying the COVID-19 virus.
Mr. Tanarak also cited different timings for symptoms to manifest in an infected individual. These are, as follows:
99% of COVID-19 positive patients will show symptoms between 12 days of infection
5% within 11 days
95% within 10.3 days
75% within 7.15 days
50% within 6.4 days
“Seven-day quarantine is possible in the case of areas with very low infections… f we do it, we have must redesign the quarantine system, together with measures to monitor those people to make sure the country is safe from the outbreak,” Mr. Tanarak concluded.
He also added that the government will be working around four points in making sure these visitors from low-risk countries will not inadvertently trigger a second wave of infections. These points are, he said, prevention, search, disease control and medical treatment.
“We are at the point of striking a balance between health safety and economic growth,” he said.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had indicated in September that the government will be implementing technology in tracking visitors and aiding contact tracing efforts.
According to the Prime Minister, future visitors under the Special Tourist Visa will be required to wear special armbands as well as to install a mobile app for the duration of their stay in Thailand.
The first group of tourists under the STV program were scheduled to arrive on Thursday last week, but were pushed back to a date after the Vegetarian Festival in Phuket. This was confirmed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand deputy governor Thapanee Kiatphaibool.
The Vegetarian Festival is a huge event for domestic tourism, and is expected to garner around THB200 million for the province at the least. Taking place between October 16 and October 25, the Festival is expected to bring in roughly 15,000 domestic tourists per day through Phuket International Airport.
“People in Phuket will welcome the Chinese tourists after the festival. The public health system is also ready to function at that time because all stakeholders are working hard to get things ready,” Ms. Thapanee told reporters during a press conference.