Deadline for arrivals under Thailand’s ‘Test and Go’ scheme may be extended to mid-January
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said today (Thursday) a proposal will be made at the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA)’s meeting tomorrow whether the January 10th deadline, for foreign tourists with the “Thailand Pass” to enter the country through the Test and Go scheme, can be postponed to January 15th.
He made clear that it is not possible to extend the deadline to February or April, as suggested by some tourism business operators, explaining that the government is focusing on “quality” tourists, not on the numbers.
The public health minister said that he could not say for sure whether lockdown restrictions will be re-imposed, to cope with the rapid surge in COVID-19 infections since the end of the long New Year holidays adding, however, that the Disease Control Department has proposed that some high-risk areas be declared COVID-19 “orange zones”, under which restrictions, such as no alcohol service in public venues and mandatory quarantine for foreign arrivals, can be imposed.
Regarding the increase in the COVID-19 alert, from Level 3 to Level 4, Anutin said that it was not unexpected, in light of the rise in new COVID-19 infections since the New Year.
He added that the extent of the growth of new infections would become clearer in the next 7-10 days, but said that he believes the number of serious cases will not climb as rapidly as the new infection rate.
5,775 new COVID-19 cases were recorded today, but he said that, on the plus side, significantly fewer deaths have been recorded since early December, which is not related to this new wave sweeping the country.
The new cases include 135 among “Test and Go” tourists and 62 in the “sandbox” program.
He reminded the public that hospital beds are strictly for the very sick, as evaluated by doctors, and those who have mild symptoms or asymptomatic cases will have remain at home or in community isolation facilities.
Meanwhile, Disease Control Department chief Dr. Opart Karnkawinpong said today that the department will propose a set of measures to contain the spread of the virus to the CCSA at its meeting tomorrow. The measures include quarantine and adjustment of zones in line with the infection rates, among others.
He warned that, without additional restrictions and the full cooperation of the public, daily infections will jump into the tens of thousands very soon.