Thailand likely to postpone restart of “Test and Go” scheme until end of January
Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health will propose that the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) postpones the resumption of entry to Thailand under the “Test and Go” program until end of this month over Omicron variant concerns, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said today (Monday).
On December 21st, the CCSA suspended quarantine-free travel under the scheme until January 4th. Under the program, arrivals from abroad are required to spend a night at a designated hotel while waiting for their RT-PCR COVID-19 test result.
The Medical Sciences Department today reported an additional 229 Omicron variant cases, bringing total infections to date to 1,780, with most in Bangkok, Kalasin, Roi-et, Chon Buri and Phuket.
Anutin also said that travellers already granted a “Thailand Pass” under the “Test and Go” program must arrive in Thailand by January 10th, otherwise they will have to enter the country under the Phuket “sandbox” scheme, which means they must stay at their hotel on the island for the first five days, before they can travel anywhere else, or enter quarantine. They must undergo an RT-PCR test upon arrival and another on the fifth day of their stay.
Meanwhile, Public Health Permanent Secretary Dr. Kiattibhoom Vongrachit disclosed that 78% of the COVID-19 cases among foreign arrivals were in the Test and Go program and most cases were asymptomatic or mild.
He admitted, however, that cluster infections in several provinces, which were linked to eateries, are a matter of serious concern. Most of the venues in question had not maintained COVID Free Setting standards. Anyone who visited these eateries during the New Year break may have been exposed to the virus, he said, and are likely to spread the virus when they return to Bangkok or other cities.
He recommended that all New Year holiday travellers take an antigen test before their return journey and work from home for 14 days, adding that, if they have to report to work in person, they should take at least two antigen tests at least three days apart, monitor their health closely for at least 14 days and avoid socialising.