Attempting to ease fears that the tourists coming in under the Special Tourist Visa could put additional burden to the country’s public health system, an official from the Department of Infectious Diseases clarified that they will go to private hospitals should they test positive for COVID-19 while in quarantine.
Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong clarified that the STV’s stipulations require foreigners to acquire COVID-19 insurance, which means that they’ll be responsible for expenses related to their treatment and recovery in the event that they contract the virus while in Thailand.
Dr. Opas also explained that tourists who sign up for the STV are required to furnish fit-to-fly certificates to signify that they are in good health, together with a certificate proving that they tested negative for COVID-19 before flying to the Kingdom.
They are also compelled to pay in advance the expenses for their alternative local state quarantine accommodation.
If they are found positive for COVID-19 while on quarantine, patients will then be transferred to a private hospital with whom the ASQ hotel has partnered with to treat cases that do arise in these circumstances.
“If infected they would go to a special isolation unit at the hospital partnered with the quarantine hotel,” Dr. Opas concluded.
The length of time in which they will be hospitalized will depend on the severity of their infection, he added.
For example, those with mild or moderate symptoms can expect to be discharged within 10 days after admission. If symptoms worsen within those days, the hospital could keep the patient admitted for an additional 24 hours, or until the treatment succeeds and the symptoms disappear.
On the other hand, those who develop serious symptoms like lung infection will have to be treated and observed for at least 30 days in the hospital. The actual length of hospitalization, however, will be decided by the attending physicians on a case-to-case basis.
“They won’t be a burden on the Thai health system,” Dr. Opas concluded.
Fears of a second wave of infections have plagued the government’s efforts at reopening for foreign tourism since the Tourism and Sports Ministry have championed the cause since July.
A previous plan dubbed as the “Safe and Sealed” plan that would have centered on Phuket as a pilot province for reopening was cancelled due to fears amongst the local population that they could get a surge of COVID-19 cases from the incoming tourists.
Instead, the government devised the Special Tourist Visa program, which would bring in tourists from countries the Kingdom deems as low risk such as China. A vanguard group of 39 tourists from Shanghai, China are already in the middle of their 14-day quarantine in Bangkok.
Amidst this development, the government recorded a recent case of local transmission involving a 57-year-old French woman and her family in Koh Samui.
The woman reportedly contracted the virus after making use of infected gym equipment at her alternate local state quarantine hotel in Samut Prakan outside of Bangkok, officials investigating the matter claimed.
The woman is currently being treated at the Koh Samui Hospital. All those that have come into close contact with her, including her family and family friend, have all tested negative for the COVID-19.