Prominent doctor calls for one-month delay to Thailand’s border reopening

Dr. Prasit Watanapa, dean of the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital of Mahidol University, is suggesting that the government take the “Phuket Sandbox” scheme into account before reopening borders on October 1st, cautioning that the country is not yet ready, due to low rates of vaccination. The reopening date should be pushed back a 1 month to ensure that Thailand is ready.

His remark on Thursday comes as four more provinces – Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, Prachuap Khriri Khan, and Phetchaburi are set to welcome fully vaccinated COVID-negative international arrivals from Oct 1st and Bangkok to follow from October 15th.

Dr. Prasit cautioned the government over their plan to reopen borders in a fortnight. Officials should draw lessons from the “Phuket Sandbox”, he said, as although most of the population of the island have been fully vaccinated, there are still chances of being infected and spreading the virus, as evidenced in more than 200 cases reported on the island each day in recent weeks.

If quarantine measures are lifted, however, it would be worrisome because the “Sandbox” scheme was meant as an experiment only in limited areas, not the whole country, and does not have a broad impact and can be cancelled or adjusted, said Dr. Prasit.

As for welcoming back tourists, the prominent doctor said Thailand will be reopening borders faster than other countries and, in countries which have reopened their borders, more than 70% of the public have been fully vaccinated, while only 38% of the public in Thailand have had their first jab and a mere 19% of the population has received 2 shots.

To ensure safety, 60% of the population should be vaccinated with one dose, while 40-50% should be vaccinated with two, he said.

Dr. Prasit also stated that one of the most worrying prospects at the moment is another wave of the pandemic. There must be sufficient beds for patients and ICU facilities, as we should not face the situation of inadequate beds again, with hopes that there will be no mutation of the virus that might affect the efficacy of the vaccines.



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