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Thai tourism reopening plan stokes concerns of virus resurgence


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As Thailand gears up for the reopening of Bangkok and several key provinces in October, some doctors warn that hospitalisations could surge again because the vaccination rate remains low across the nation.

Only 18 per cent of the population is fully inoculated at present, a level that offers only limited protection from the spread of Covid-19, especially with the impending increase of the movements of people and the arrival of tourists -- who will be granted quarantine waivers based on their vaccination status.

Coverage should exceed 70 per cent before reopening because fully vaccinated people can still get infected and spread the virus, said Prasit Watanapa, dean of Mahidol University's Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital. He said that the emergence of a new variant could worsen the situation and squeeze the health-care system.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha has pushed for a wider reopening in an effort to boost the foreigner-driven tourism sector. The scrapping of quarantines -- typically two weeks -- is part of the government's "living with Covid-19" strategy that aims to revive the economy and put people back to work -- while concurrently limiting fallout from the virus.



A sign mandating the use of face masks at the empty Patong Beach in Patong, Phuket, Thailand. Phuket was the first province to reopen in July.

The resort island of Phuket, the first province to reopen in July when the vaccination rate there was ramped up to about 70 per cent, is now battling spikes in cases, especially among migrants and in fishing communities.

The Phuket experience is not unlike what's happened in other global destinations, with cases jumping in the Maldives and Seychelles following their reopenings to tourists -- despite high vaccination rates.

Thira Woratanarat, an associate professor at Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Medicine, said a surge in infections would likely be evident six to eight weeks after the wider tourism reopening. Current control measures include curfews, limits on restaurant dining, clamps on alcohol sales and gym closures.

The upcoming phases of reopenings are scheduled between October 1 and October 15, depending on province and the readiness of local authorities.

"If there's a new wave of outbreak, it'd be difficult for the majority of people to survive because they have been fighting this for a long time and their resources are running low," Thira said. "It would inevitably affect the economy in the end."

Bloomberg - Randy Thanthong-Knight 07:24, Sep 17 2021

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General Pinocchio is living in cloud cuckoo land. Back In April they stated 70% coverage and unless they can go from 18% to 70% within the next 14 days, which I very much doubt, then he is going against his own promise, 

A politician lying, well I never.

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Well that lasted a long time

Bangkok's reopening for inoculated tourists will be delayed by two weeks as most of the city's residents are still waiting for their second jabs, while the tourism ministry has pledged to open the city to bring at least 1 million international tourists this year.

Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the tourism and sports minister, said the appropriate timeline for Bangkok should be postponed from Oct 1 to Oct 15 as the capital city is expected to have administered Covid-19 vaccines to 70% of its residents by then.

At present, 37% of population is fully vaccinated, while another 33% are in the 8-12 week interval following their first AstraZeneca shot.



33% since June 3.5 months and they reckon 37% in the next month, I know this government legalized Kratom I didn’t realize they were all smoking it as well.

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And it slips yet again, it will be Mid-April by end of September at this rate

Welcoming tourists back to Bangkok hinges on three factors, including that 70% of its population are fully vaccinated, which could push the reopening near mid-November, according to the City Hall.


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