Prominent Thai doctor warns against letting in foreign tourists, even vaccinated, without 14-day quarantine, says sandbox program should be delayed


A prominent Thai doctor, speaking to associated Thai press, stated this afternoon, June 15th, that he and other colleagues were adamantly against any program designed to let in foreign tourists, even vaccinated, without a strict 14-day quarantine like the current program in which visitors, even fully vaccinated, cannot leave their room for at least fourteen days.

In fact, Dr. Prasit even suggested that depending on variants and the situation the country should even be considering LONGER strict mandatory quarantines, like China with 21 days, vs. relaxed programs.

The statements were made by Dr. Prasit Wattanapha, Dean of Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University.  He was referring to programs like the Phuket Sandbox, or Pattaya Move On, geared at letting in foreign vaccinated tourists without a strict quarantine but with some terms and conditions.

Dr. Prasit believes any such program is too soon and that the country could consider waiting until the entire Kingdom has vaccinated at least 70% of the population-something that based on current vaccination timelines could very well not be completed until well into next year. If this wasn’t possible, at the very least waiting until higher levels of the country were vaccinated, stating that although places like Phuket were rapidly approaching 70% vaccinated that he was concerned with the country as a whole, even with strict measures and precautions designed to prevent Covid-19.

Dr. Prasit stated his major concerns were “variants” of the virus, especially variants that might not yet be discovered and could possibly cause further problems. He admitted that the economy, especially in tourism-related locations, badly needed a return of tourists but stressed that health should take precedent over economic concerns.

Dr. Prasit also stated that despite his and colleagues’ concerns it seemed nearly certain that the country was going to move ahead with plans to reopen the country and that he hoped that this would not be a mistake and that there was a careful balance between “freedom” of tourists and preventative health measures.

The doctor also expressed concerns with relaxing restrictions in general too fast, stressing that there must be a very careful balance between health and the economy and that he felt some areas had already relaxed “too much” and people were becoming apathetic to Covid-19 precautions, not recognizing what he stated is the seriousness of the situation. He suggested the fastest way to reduce restrictions and restore the economy vs. the current half measures, including the valuable tourism industry, was to focus on vaccinating the population as quickly as possible against Covid-19 and to focus all major resources on this process.

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