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  • #61
    Omicron will not affect reopening, says Phiphat

    Thailand will not take a step back from the reopening plan despite uncertainty over the Omicron variant and the Tourism and Sports Ministry will also propose more relaxation on alcohol sales from the afternoon to lift the festive sentiment.

    "Nobody wants another border closure as it was really difficult for us to reopen the country. Our economy still suffers from the crisis, so there will be no more border seals unless we are in a very critical situation," said Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, Tourism and Sports Minister.

    He said international travellers during the first 29 days of reopening numbered over 100,000, which doubled from three months of the Phuket sandbox. The figures proved that a quarantine-free strategy is the right way to attract tourists.

    As the country recorded 200,000 tourists in the first 11 months, the ministry expected 300,000-400,000 tourists would visit Thailand by year-end, thanks to the winter season.

    However, the plan to replace RT-PCR tests with antigen test kits for the Test and Go scheme from Dec 16 has to be postponed until there is more clarity on the Omicron variant to prevent possible caseloads of over 20,000 per day as seen during the recent wave.

    "We have to accelerate the vaccination plan for residents which could help guard ourselves against the possible new wave. By December, our country will complete 110-120 million doses for the entire population and such protection will at least avoid severe conditions for those who are infected," said Mr Phiphat.

    The number of vaccines required for the tourism industry is approximately 3.5 million doses, of which 3 million were requested by the Tourism Council of Thailand. The ministry will coordinate with the Public Health Ministry to allocate booster jabs for tourism employees as soon as possible.

    Mr Phiphat said he will discuss with the cabinet today about allowing the sale of alcohol in blue zone areas until after midnight during year-end celebrations and unlocking sales from 2-5pm as the current rules don't permit booze sales during those hours.

    The proposal will be submitted to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration for approval.

    Mr Phiphat said the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will organise countdown events in five regions including Ayutthaya, Nakhon Ratchasima, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Chonburi with a budget of 100-120 million baht, focusing on supporting local artists.

    TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the new variant hasn't affected travel sentiment so far.

    However, the European market has started to see slow bookings in December due to concern over another lockdown triggered by the spread of the new variant.

    But if there's no threat from Omicron, the number of international arrivals this year should reach 500,000.:

    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


    • #62
      Update to Covid-19 vaccine guide for travellers to Thailand

      The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) on Monday provided an update to guide to Covid-19 vaccines for international travellers to Thailand effective from December 16, 2021.

      International travellers, including returning Thais and foreign residents, who are above 18 years of age should get fully vaccinated for Covid-19 with a vaccine approved by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) or the World Health Organisation (WHO) no less than 14 days before their travel date.

      Travellers 12-17 years of age, travelling with parents under the Test & Go entry scheme and Sandbox Programme, are not required to be vaccinated but must have a negative RT-PCR test result within 72 hours before travelling. Those unaccompanied must get vaccinated with at least one dose of an approved vaccine and must have a negative RT-PCR test result.

      Travellers 6-11 years of age, travelling with parents under the Test & Go entry scheme and Sandbox Programme, must have a negative RT-PCR test result within 72 hours before travelling.

      Travellers under 6 years of age, travelling with parents with a negative RT-PCR test result within 72 hours before travelling, are not required to have a pre-arrival negative RT-PCR test result and can have saliva test when entering the Kingdom.

      Travellers previously infected within 3 months before travelling must have a medical certificate of recovery or get vaccinated with at least one dose of an approved vaccine for an unspecified period of time before travelling.

      List of approved Covid-19 vaccines

      Currently, the MoPH has approved the following manufacturers and vaccines:

      CoronaVac by Sinovac Biotech Ltd – 2 doses needed / 2-4-week interval;
      AstraZeneca or Covishield by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, SK Bioscience (South Korea), Siam Bioscience, and Serum Institute of India (Covishield) – 2 doses needed / 4-12-week interval;
      Pfizer–BioNTech or Comirnaty by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech 2 doses needed / 3-week interval;
      Janssen or Janssen/Ad26.COV2.S by Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc. – 1 dose needed;
      Moderna by Moderna Inc. – 2 doses needed / 4-week interval);
      Sinopharm or COVILO by Sinopharm Co., Ltd. – 2 doses needed / 3-4-week interval);
      Sputnik V by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology – 2 doses needed – 3-week interval).

      Meanwhile, the WHO’s guidance on the Covid-19 vaccines is available here.

      Have you been fully vaccinated?

      According to the MoPH, travellers are considered fully vaccinated if:

      They get their second dose of a 2-dose vaccine; such as, the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines, no less than 14 days before their travel date to Thailand.
      They get a single-dose vaccine; such as, Janssen vaccine, no less than 14 days before their travel date to Thailand.
      In case of mix-and-match vaccines, travellers should get their second dose of a different vaccine within the recommended interval of the first vaccine no less than 14 days before their travel date to Thailand. For example, if the first vaccine is CoronaVac from Sinovac Biotech and the second vaccine is AstraZeneca, the time between the two doses is 2-4 weeks.
      Travellers who do not meet these criteria may be denied entry into Thailand.

      Requirements for the ‘Certificate of Covid-19 Vaccination’

      The travellers’ Certificate of Covid-19 Vaccination should contain the following details:

      Given name and last name;
      Date of Birth;
      Passport or Identification No.;
      Name of the Covid-19 vaccine;
      Vaccination dates;
      Vaccine manufacturer and lot/batch number;
      Authorised organisation in the country of origin.

      In addition to being fully vaccinated, international travellers should have all of their advance arrangements in good order for arrival and entry. For more information on Thailand’s reopening programmes, see:

      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


      • #63
        Antigen testing for visitors in doubt as Omicron variant spreads

        The government is considering suspending the decision to replace RT-PCR tests with antigen testing for air travellers following the emergence of the Covid-19 Omicron variant, Deputy Public Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha said on Monday.

        Mr Sathit said at Government House the decision to move to antigen testing was made to facilitate the entry of visitors at designated airports, to boost the tourism sector.

        The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration on Friday approved a Public Health Ministry proposal to allow travellers from 63 eligible countries and territories to undergo antigen testing, instead of RT-PCR, from Dec 16.

        Travellers subject to RT-PCR testing have to quarantine overnight at a hotel while awaiting the result. Antigen testing takes only hours and visitors would be allowed to proceed to their destinations if the result is negative.

        The deputy minister said RT-PCR would be more effective than antigen testing in keeping the Omicron variant out of Thailand.

        Apisamai Srirangson, a spokewoman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, said the CCSA’s decsion on Friday to replace RT-PCR tests with antigen tests might change, now the Covid-19 situation is changing.

        Travellers from eight countries in southern Africa will be denied enty from Dec 1 in a bid to keep Thailand free of the variant.

        Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow said Omicron would not spoil the reopening of the country. African countries were not on the list of 63 countries and territories that Thailand allowed entry without mandatory 14-day quarantine.

        The government would assess the situation in two or three weeks, including the decision to allow in travellers from more countries without quarantine.:

        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


        • #64
          RT-PCR test requirement on arrival in Thailand to remain in place

          The RT-PCR COVID-19 test requirement upon arrival in Thailand will remain in place in light of the emergence of the new “Omicron” COVID-19 variant in many countries, the Thai cabinet announced today (Tuesday). This decision negates the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration’s announcement, issued last week, saying that antigen tests will be used from December 16th.

          The switch to antigen test kits (ATKs) was meant to reduce the waiting time for people arriving from specified countries, both Thai returnees and foreign visitors. The quarantine wait for fully vaccinated arrivals to get tested has, in fact, been about a day or half a day in a pre-booked certified hotel.

          According to Deputy Public Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha, the Thai authorities are monitoring the Omicron variant more closely, especially regarding air travel. He expressed confidence that, should the variant, which has been categorised as “of concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO), make its way into Thailand through formal points of entry, it can be traced and tracked. If, however, it arrives with those who cross borders illegally, then it will be hard to do so.

          With this in mind, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed border security officials to be more stringent and has said that any negligence will lead to penalties.

          First detected in South Africa, Omicron has now been found also in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK.:

          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


          • #65
            Thai children can fly back on their own if vaccinated

            Thai children aged between 12 and 17 can now fly home on their own provided they have had at least one Covid-19 shot, the Foreign Ministry’s Department of Consular Affairs said on Saturday.

            They can arrive in Thailand under the Test&Go or Sandbox scheme.

            However, children who have not been vaccinated are still required to travel with their parents.

            Those travelling on their own must produce evidence of vaccination at least 14 days before their travel date and register for a Thailand Pass using their Thai passport. Only vaccines approved in Thailand will be considered.

            Those who had previously registered but want to travel under the new measures must register again.:

            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


            • #66
              International flights increase 10 per cent since November

              Airports of Thailand Plc (AOT) revealed on Thursday (December 9) that slot reservation of international flights has increased 10 per cent since Thailand reopened the country to vaccinated visitors on November 1.

              According to AOT’s report, international flight slot reservation from November 1 to December 31 has increased by 1,518 flights from 15,614 flights being reserved before November 1, bringing the number of total confirmed international flights throughout the year to 17,132.

              AOT also reported that flight slot reservation in December increased from 7,649 to 9,483 flights, or 24 per cent jump from the previous month.

              AOT attributed the increase in international flights to the rising demand for travel during high season around year end.

              In the first week of this month (December 1-8), AOT has recorded a total of 2,159 flights, or an average of 270 flights per day. This number is a 7.6 per cent increase from average flight in November at 251 flights per day.:

              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


              • #67
                More flights seen at Thai airports in December

                Reservation for international flights to main airports in Thailand has jumped more than 20% this month as the country is entering the high season for tourism.

                Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) said on Thursday night that confirmed slots for airlines from overseas destinations this month had accounted for 9,483 flights so far this month, a 24% rise from November.

                The airport-operating agency also said a total of 17,132 flights would land at its airports in the last two months of this year, most of them in December.

                The increasing number of flights reflected more air travel to Thailand during the peak season of the tourism sector, AoT said. More flights will likely be added this month, said the state-owned airport operator.

                Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai and Phuket are its facilities serving international travellers since the government reopened the country on Nov 1.

                A total of 186,938 travellers entered the country since the reopening day, mainly through Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang and Phuket, according to Department of Disease Control data to Wednesday.

                Americans and Germans were top international visitors arriving in the kingdom.:

                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                • #68
                  Longer quarantine for 'sandbox' visitors

                  The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration will extend quarantine for visitors arriving from overseas through sandbox and quarantine schemes from five to seven days, from this Thursday.

                  CCSA spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin said Monday's decision was in response to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 and increase in infections in some countries.

                  Fully vaccinated visitors from countries included in the Test and Go scheme, who must stay only one night in a hotel, will undergo an RT-PCR test on arrival and then be required to antigen test themselves.

                  Entry was still prohibited to people coming from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, except for Thais and diplomats, he said.:

                  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                  • #69
                    • Anutin mulls cancelling Test & Go scheme for tourists

                    While speaking at the “Inside Thailand” television show on Monday, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said he was thinking about cancelling the “Test & Go” scheme for Thai and foreign travellers and bringing back state quarantine.

                    He said the Public Health Ministry will propose this to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) soon because the Omicron situation is worsening. He also pointed out that many countries have already cancelled their New Year countdown celebrations due to this highly transmissible variant.

                    Meanwhile, 63 Omicron cases have been found in Thailand with 20 other cases awaiting results. Anutin said it was necessary to change the entry policy to make preparations for a possible outbreak.

                    He also said that one Omicron case may have been locally transmitted, as the patient has not travelled outside of Thailand. It is believed she was infected by her husband who is a pilot. The case is being investigated.:
                    • Test & Go entry may be suspended on Omicron concerns

                    The Public Health Ministry will recommend the suspension of the "Test and Go" convenient entry programme for fully vaccinated air travellers because of the escalating Omicron variant situation worldwide.

                    Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Monday that he would put the proposal to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

                    He said all arrivals should be through the Sandbox and State Quarantine schemes.

                    Dr Supakit Sirilak, director-general of the ministry's Department of Medical Sciences, said one Omicron case who entered the country via Test and Go had tested negative for Covid-19 both before and upon arrival, but a few days later the visitor fell ill and tested positive for the new variant.

                    Therefore, Test and Go should be reviewed because the case had been within the window period of the infection, 6-7 days, he said.

                    "If Test and Go is not reviewed, then infected but undetected arrivals can right away travel farther inside the country and cause clusters of infections," Dr Supakit said.

                    Dr Supakit said that as of Sunday, Omicron cases were found in 89 countries and 39 states in the United States. Actually, it could be in more countries that were not capable of confirming the variant's presence.

                    "The infection rate will be expanding," he said.

                    He said Thailand had detected more than 80 Omicron cases to date. There were 11 cases from April to Dec 10, 52 cases from Dec 11 to 19, and more cases were reported on Monday morning.

                    "Most Omicron cases detected were arrivals at Suvarnabhumi airport and they formed a quarter of the Covid-19 cases found there. The case numbers increased quite quickly over the past week, which corresponded with the global situation," he said.

                    However, all Omicron cases were arrivals and there had not been a local infection of the new variant, he said.

                    According to Dr Supakit, there have been three sub-variants of Omicron but their infections remained limited.

                    The infections spread quickly, but there was insufficient information to determine if the new variant caused severe illness. Vaccines were less effective at containing the new variant, but booster shots could help protect recipients, he said.:
                    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                    • #70
                      'Test & Go' country list to change

                      The government is expected to revise its list of "Test & Go" countries following the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 as details on Monday emerged of the country's earliest recorded local case of the strain.

                      Gen Supoj Malaniyom, chief of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration's (CCSA) operations base, said the list of of low-risk countries eligible for the tourism opening scheme will be reviewed and Covid-19 screening measures will be intensified.

                      Gen Supoj said the CCSA's operation centre will identify "high-risk" countries before holding a meeting on Friday to decide on the extent to which the "Test & Go" scheme may need to be revised. If the risk of further infections is considered high, the scheme may be suspended completely.

                      "We're monitoring the spread of Omicron in other countries, not just the UK. The situation is alarming and we must take necessary precautions," he said.

                      The entry programme, which started in November, applies to fully vaccinated visitors from specific countries in an attempt to revive the tourism and service industry.

                      "We have to be more stringent [with the "Test & Go" scheme] and Covid-19 screening of travellers," said Gen Supoj.

                      His remarks came after the Public Health Ministry said it would back suspending the programme and requiring even fully vaccinated arrivals to spend time in sandbox and state quarantine schemes.

                      Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the ministry forwarded the proposal to the CCSA for consideration after more Omicron cases were detected.:
                      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                      • #71
                        Registration closes for Test & Go starting today

                        Registration is closing at this time for travellers wishing to enter Thailand underneath the Check & Go quarantine exemption programme. In an pressing assembly this afternoon, chaired by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Centre for Covid-19 Scenario Administration determined to cease accepting new vacationers underneath the entry schemes beginning at this time, in accordance with reviews in Thai media. The federal government will evaluation the scenario after the vacations on January 4.

                        Travellers registered to enter Thailand underneath the Check & Go will nonetheless be capable of enter Thailand underneath the programme, however no extra travellers will be capable of register, in accordance with Thai media. There can be an official press convention will extra data.

                        The choice first native transmission of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 which was reported yesterday. Up to now, there have been greater than 60 confirmed Omicron circumstances in Thailand.

                        The Check & Go program was launched on November 1, permitting absolutely vaccinated travellers, from 63 “low danger” international locations, to enter Thailand with out present process a prolonged quarantine. Check & Go travellers have been required to e book an evening at an accredited SHA+ resort to remain in isolation whereas they look forward to the outcomes from an RT-PCR Covid-19 take a look at.

                        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                        • #72
                          Previously approved Test & Go visitors allowed entry

                          The government has clarified the position of about 200,000 visitors who earlier received permission to enter the country without quarantine via now-suspended Test & Go programme.

                          Sumanee Wacharasin, hazard communication director of the Department of Disease Control, said on Wednesday that although the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) suspended registration for Test & Go from Wednesday, people previously approved would still be allowed in.

                          There were about 200,000 of them, Dr Sumanee said.

                          The visitors could travel the country if their first RT-PCR test upon arival returned negative.

                          However, hotel managements must ensure the visitors stayed in their overnight rooms until their test result was known.

                          In addition, the visitors and their places of accommodation would be tracked around the clock via the MorChana app.

                          They would have to take a free, second Covid-19 test on day 5 or 6 after arrival, or earlier if they developed any symptoms.

                          Dr Sumanee said the Consular Affairs Department reported that 10,787 visitors were due to arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport and 2,546 others at Phuket airport on Wednesday.

                          She said visitors would have to wear face masks while going out, for their own and public safety.

                          The government would reconsider the Covid-19 situation on Jan 4.

                          CCSA has also changed its measures for Thai travellers.

                          Dr Sumanee said government officials were prohibited from taking leave and going abroad unless it was essential.

                          People were advised to postpone any planned overseas trips, especially to Europe, America, Africa or the Middle East.

                          People were also asked to conduct antigen tests regularly and before long trips with many other people.

                          Government organisations were instructed that as many staff as possible must work from home after the New Year holiday, Dr Sumanee said.:

                          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


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