11 July 2024

The travel bubble plan, which would allow small groups of foreign tourists to visit Thailand, should be shelved for at least another six months, because of the high-risk of COVID-19 infection, said Associate Professor Dr. Thira Woratanarat of the Faculty of Medical Science of Chulalongkorn University.

In his Facebook post today (Tuesday), he said that the global COVID-19 situation remains of serious concern, as new infections in several countries are still surging, with more than 200,000 new cases in the past 24 hours and total infections worldwide expected to pass 15 million tomorrow.

As far as Thailand is concerned, he said that internal and external risks are on the rise, citing the 5th phase of the easing of lockdown restrictions, the results of which are expected in 2-6 weeks.

He cited the protests last week in Bangkok, saying that several protesters were seen not wearing face masks, while others were shouting and not maintaining social distancing.  These actions, he said, put people at risk of becoming infected or of transmitting the disease to others.

Dr. Thira warned against the opening up of the country, saying that not a single country has escaped a second wave of infections after allowing foreign arrivals, noting that the screening system is not a 100% fool-proof.

Screening of arrivals at their departure point cannot be fully trusted, he said, adding that there is a chance that some infections escape detection. Of about 30,000 arrivals, he said 150 might be found to be infected, or 0.5%. Of these, 20 might escape detection, hence the need for quarantine.

Dr. Thira suggested that Thailand reduce its dependency on tourism, as a major source of revenue, by shifting to other businesses until vaccines are widely available to fight the spread of COVID-19.