At a press briefing, Anutin said Thailand wouldn’t discriminate against tourists from China by subjecting them to specific anti-COVID measures, reports the Bangkok Post.
“Relevant officials agree to give the same treatment to visitors from all countries and health measures will not discriminate against visitors from any particular country,” Anutin said.
During their stay in the country, visitors will be advised to protect themselves by wearing face masks in public places and on public vehicles, regularly washing hands, conducting antigen tests if they have any respiratory symptoms, and going to hospital if they develop worse symptoms.
If their destination countries after their stay in Thailand require prior disease screening, visitors will be advised to stay at hotels with disease control standards and COVID-19 test services.
Anutin said the Thai health system was ready to cope with emergency situations as only 5.2% of hospital beds were now occupied by COVID-19 patients. Authorities have prepared response measures for any worsening disease situation or mutation, he added.
“There will be 60,000 (Chinese) visitors in January, 90,000 in February and 150,000 in March,” said the minister. “Their number will rise gradually because (currently) there are limited flights, it will take time to seek passports and visas and the Chinese government has not allowed tour firms to organise outbound groups of tourists yet.”
In the short term, visitors from China will be “independent travellers and upscale travellers with purchasing power”, he added.
The ministry will consult all available guidelines before imposing such restrictions on a specific group of travellers, Anutin said.
The Department of Disease Control (DDC) has prepared guidelines to ensure the public remains safe as the country reopens for international tourism, he added.
“These measures weren’t driven by the desire to boost the economy alone. The DDC took into consideration all means to protect our citizens, as public health is just as important as economic recovery,” he said.
After meeting medical experts, the minister said he has faith in Thailand’s ability to keep COVID-19 under control.
As the COVID-19 variants which are prevalent in China are similar to those found in Thailand, and the patterns of infection tend to be roughly the same, there is “no need to treat those coming in from China differently,” he said.
DDC director-general Tares Krassanairawiwong said yesterday the department is opening a centre to monitor COVID-19 infections among foreign visitors so the government can keep track of case numbers and symptoms.
“This should give us a better idea on how to tackle infections,” Dr Tares said.
Also, the DDC will collect samples of wastewater from aircraft on international routes weekly to detect the presence of COVID-19 sub-variants, said Dr Tares.
Dr Tares said about 90% of foreign travellers have been fully vaccinated.
* The Phuket News has yet to corroborate this story through an official government announcement.