The Thai Ministry of Public Health is preparing to propose the reconsideration of the “Test & Go” tourist scheme and to reimpose quarantine for all travelers, following the rapid discovery of Omicron cases among arrivals in Thailand.
TPN media wants to make it perfectly clear that this is currently only a proposal to the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration Administration. There is currently nothing final and no eta on when any decisions will be made.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul stated this morning, December 20th, via a televised broadcast that the Ministry of Health and its committee is considering reimplementation of the State Quarantine system for travelers, both Thais and foreigners, when entering the country. It is not clear if this proposal would be for a “room only” quarantine or would allow a “Sandbox” style in which a visitor could stay in one specific area for a period of time.
The Ministry of Public Health will also propose the cancellation of the “Test & Go” no-quarantine scheme to the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) at an upcoming meeting due to the severe situation of Omicron infections around the world.
As of today, Thailand has found 63 Omicron cases and 20 of them are confirmed with full genetic analysis. Therefore, a possible reimposition of quarantine is to increase the potential of handling Omicron in the country, the minister stated.
The Public Health Ministry also announced the first local transmission of the Omicron variant in Thailand during the press conference today. The patient is a Thai woman married to a Colombian pilot who had returned from Nigeria on November 26th and arrived in Thailand via a sandbox program in Bangkok.
He was initially testing negative for the virus via RT-PCR upon arrival and throughout the sandbox program. He was already shot with two doses of AstraZeneca and had just received a booster shot of Pfizer on December 1st.
However, he reportedly became sick with suspicious symptoms after returning to his wife’s home in Pathum Thani on December 7th before being confirmed with positive results at a local hospital on December 10th.
His wife also tested positive for the Omicron variant and is the first known local transmission of the Omicron variant in Thailand, according to Jakrat Pittayawong-anon, the Director of the Communicable Disease of the Public Health Ministry.
The husband is now found with a lung infection but is not on a ventilator. His condition is improving. The wife has already received two doses of AstraZeneca and has no serious symptoms so far.
The spokeswoman for the CCSA stated at their daily press conference in the last hour that “changes to the entry program are certainly coming” in response to the proposal from the MOPH but that, again, there was no eta and no definitive information at this time. The announcement of the possible cancelation of Test and Go, which is the main program allowing tourists and visitors to enter without a strict quarantine, has driven anger and frustration on social media even as Thailand hits a daily record yesterday in arrivals under the program and travelers have increased ahead of the Christmas and New Year’s period.
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