The discovery of the Omicron coronavirus variant in an international traveler has led to many parties questioning whether Thailand will retract its reopening to foreign tourists or reimpose lockdowns. The prime minister is now asserting that no escalation of Covid restriction measures is in the pipeline.
Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha explained that the Ministry of Public Health has confirmed that Thailand’s disease prevention capacity is able to handle the new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19. Vaccines currently in use in Thailand are also effective at preventing and mitigating symptoms caused by the new variant. Gen. Prayut noted that disease control measures in use remain the same, with RT-PCR tests required for all international arrivals and a short hotel quarantine period still required as the arriving travelers wait for their test results.
The prime minister added that the new coronavirus variant has yet to trigger consequences in the big picture. Meanwhile, the continual decline in new infection numbers in Thailand is proof that vaccination is effective, although the premier is urging people to continue to observe disease prevention guidelines.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul asserted that screening measures for international arrivals remain rigorous. He elaborated that passengers coming to Thailand must present evidence of a negative RT-PCR test prior to boarding their flights and possess evidence of vaccination for COVID-19. Upon arrival in Thailand, the passengers must stay at an authorized hotel for one night as they wait for the result of their on-arrival RT-PCR test. The minister explained that any infections found in the arriving passengers can be controlled and the patients sent for treatment, as these individuals have remained contained within the prevention system since their arrival. The strain of the Covid virus in each patient will also be verified.
Mr. Anutin said it is unlikely that Thailand will be able to avoid the spreading of the Omicron variant, but noted that the important matter is to prepare well. He said vaccination will reduce the severity of symptoms and the number of deaths, adding that no lockdowns are planned as the country has only recently reopened and he did not want businesses and people to panic.