RT-PCR test requirement on arrival in Thailand to remain in place
The RT-PCR COVID-19 test requirement upon arrival in Thailand will remain in place in light of the emergence of the new “Omicron” COVID-19 variant in many countries, the Thai cabinet announced today (Tuesday). This decision negates the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration’s announcement, issued last week, saying that antigen tests will be used from December 16th.
The switch to antigen test kits (ATKs) was meant to reduce the waiting time for people arriving from specified countries, both Thai returnees and foreign visitors. The quarantine wait for fully vaccinated arrivals to get tested has, in fact, been about a day or half a day in a pre-booked certified hotel.
According to Deputy Public Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha, the Thai authorities are monitoring the Omicron variant more closely, especially regarding air travel. He expressed confidence that, should the variant, which has been categorised as “of concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO), make its way into Thailand through formal points of entry, it can be traced and tracked. If, however, it arrives with those who cross borders illegally, then it will be hard to do so.
With this in mind, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed border security officials to be more stringent and has said that any negligence will lead to penalties.
First detected in South Africa, Omicron has now been found also in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK.