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Medical chief backs reopening

THAILAND: The director-general of the Department of Medical Services is backing the proposal to reopen the country to revitalise the virus-battered economy.

By Bangkok Post

Friday 9 October 2020, 08:42AM

The empty Samui Airport during the tourism slowdown last month. Photo: Dusida Worrachaddejchai.

The empty Samui Airport during the tourism slowdown last month. Photo: Dusida Worrachaddejchai.

Dr Somsak Akksilp said that not only was Thailand well prepared for a second wave of COVID-19 but that maintaining zero local infections was an unrealistic target since it was still not known when a vaccine would become available.

“We cannot afford to maintain zero cases forever,” Dr Somsak said. “We need to reopen the country. The country must move forward and people have jobs to do.

“This means we may have to see a small number of infections but if we work together to prevent them, the country will be able to achieve a balance between public health and the economy.”

He said the Public Health Ministry wanted to reassure the public that the medical system was well-equipped to detect and control the disease.

Dr Somsak said 2,000 beds were already available across the country for COVID-19 patients. Bangkok could treat up to 400 patients per day and the rest of the country 1,000-1,700 patients per day, he said.

“We have upgraded our medical system,” Dr Somsak continued. “We won the first round because of the trust between the people and doctors. We believe we will get through this.”

Sophon Mekthon, chairman of the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO), said that it had ensured enough supplies of face masks, N95 masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) in the event of a second wave of COVID-19 - and more could now be produced locally.

In particular, the GPO had been working with the Thai Textile Manufacturing Association and the Department of Science Service to make high-quality equipment, Dr Sophon pointed out.

Opas Karnkawinpong, acting director-general of the Department of Disease Control (DDC), said it had about 1,000 rapid investigation teams and planned to triple the number.

The aim was to control any further waves of infections within three to four weeks, reduce the death rate to below 1.4% and increase each province’s ability to deal with COVID-19, Dr Opas said.

Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda, meanwhile, pointed out that the mandatory quarantine period for tourists was still 14 days and had not yet been reduced to 10 days since further studies were needed.

Regarding the government’s special tourist visa (STV) scheme, the ministry has assigned 12 Alternative Local State Quarantine facilities in Phuket, Surat Thani, Buri Ram and Chon Buri, plus a further 84 Alternative State Quarantine facilities in preparation for the country’s reopening.

Phuket had been preparing to receive its first group of tourists from China who were expected to arrive this week under the STV scheme aimed at supporting Thailand’s economic recovery.

A group of 120 Chinese tourists and businessmen had been scheduled to arrive in Thailand yesterday (Oct 8), but their trip has been delayed.

Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn confirmed that the initiative to welcome foreign tourists back to Thailand under the STV scheme will proceed as planned, though it might be delayed due to paperwork.

He confirmed the tourists in the STV scheme will be able to come to Thailand by the end of this month.

It’s part of the conditions of the STV that they had to pay first, Mr Yuthasak said.

There’s no need for refunds because their trips are not cancelled, they are only delayed, he told Thai media earlier.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday declined to elaborate on the matter saying the TAT governor had already clarified the issue.

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Dicko | 12 October 2020 - 19:36:40

@LALALA.. so obviously you do understand that there is a difference between Covid-19 and the flu, so why not call it by the correct term? Though given your following comments it is clear that you are hardly what anyone would call a considerate, compassionate and upstanding member of society, what fun you must be at a dinner party.... 

Pascale | 12 October 2020 - 15:04:25

@Kurt    What makes you think that Phuket is a more saver place than the rest of Thailand regarding Covid ? Do you want to go back to those times in April where they closed down every province and travelling around was restricted ? 

Kurt | 12 October 2020 - 10:21:20

No, not Phuket only, other islands too ( but we talk about Phuket). No, not Thai tourists only. Foreigners are already 'in', just add the Thai. There is not a single insane suggestion, Dek. Your questions are unneeded suggestive. You know better.  Don't 'massage' other's comments.

DeKaaskopp | 12 October 2020 - 09:16:44

@Kurt   So you want every Thai tourist to get tested before arriving to Phuket ? How about those people living here who leave the island for one day to go to Phang-nga for example.Do they need to tested too upon their return.And Phuket only ? How about Koh Samui or other islands ? And Thai tourists only ? Expats are free to go ?  That's so insane what you suggest !

Jor12 | 12 October 2020 - 04:39:19

lala...over 200,000 US covid deaths since January 2020. Since 2010, 12,000 – 61,000 deaths annually from flu. So, your facts and conclusions don't stack up. False news. If you want to die that's your prerogative.

ThorFinger | 11 October 2020 - 21:30:29

Finally a Medical Chief with some common sense.  This is what should have happened from the very beginning. The world's knee jerk reaction has caused innocent people to die of other causes.
By the way, West Australia had a total of 163 icu beds. Truly pathetic and they think lockdown will solve problem.

Kurt | 11 October 2020 - 17:15:33

@ Christy Sweet,  And that is why also Thai tourists at same day should be tested on Covid-19 in home town before departure to Phuket or upon arrival Phuket. In order to protect the future Phuket New Time 'Tourist Lifeline'. Just logic. The Covid-19 virus not discriminate between Thai and Foreigners.

LALALA | 11 October 2020 - 17:10:02

And regarding a Vaccine, I do not care, I not had one for the Flu in my whole life and I will for sure NOT take one for Covid even if it would be available. I also NOT wear a face-mask by the way, not did it and not plan to do so.

LALALA | 11 October 2020 - 17:06:43

Dicko, I am not medically ignorant, fact is that covid is not more deadly than the Flu given the fact that - this was stated by the WHO by the way - there are many undetected cases so the real case may be 10-20 times more than the current count. If so - it was actually proven by many studies in Europe - the death rate is close to the Flu....0.1percent

Jor12 | 11 October 2020 - 16:33:12

k...don't you read the news regarding the covid disease?

Christy Sweet | 11 October 2020 - 11:40:45

I was in Ranong a few days ago  and everyone was wearing masks, but in Sadao on the south border, where I was last month, almost no one was. 

Dicko | 10 October 2020 - 17:31:31

@LALALA I can understand if typing "Covid" is too long for you so perhaps "Flu" is easier. However "CV" is just as well known and is even shorter that "Flu" . If it because you are medically ignorant then maybe some research is called for (btw... there is a vaccine for flu) 

Kurt | 10 October 2020 - 14:09:29

J-12, I did NOT state that other provinces are virus free! I was ASKING or they are virus free, which I doubt. Phuket's 'life line' is tourism, must be shielded effectively. Most other provinces have different 'life lines', and are economically not effected in the way as Phuket is now. Daily we read of foreigners from surrounding countries crossing illegal the border and enter ...

Kurt | 10 October 2020 - 12:57:39

D, ...Many thousands of people came here already?..    Really? Where are they? Why they called  yesterday Phuket  a 'Ghost-island', and is everything closed?

Jor12 | 10 October 2020 - 05:22:38

k...it doesn't make sense to test everyone from Thailand given that you state that other provinces are virus free. Why would you waste resources doing that?

DeKaaskopp | 09 October 2020 - 19:05:52

Kurt,the bridge is open for months now.The domestic Airport is open for months now. Many thousands people came here already. Did you hear about any new outbreak since then. What are you scared of ? You need to stop your fearmongering. And if you can't, just stay home until there is a vaccine for you.

Kurt | 09 October 2020 - 17:52:38

Phuket is 'virus free' according Officialdom.  Are other provinces declared virus free? As 'now' we have at Phuket airport indoor and outdoor ( 3 mobile van's) test facilities,, why not use them as thousands (?) of Thai coming to Phuket for Veg Festival? Remember, Phuket's life line is tourism. A spike in virus infections will keep the island many more months locked!

DeKaaskopp | 09 October 2020 - 16:20:29

"Will Thai tourists...be tested.If not ,why not?  Kurt,what an insane question/suggestion ! Should everyone get tested now when going to visit another province,city ? Would you like to be tested when ever you leave this island ? Jeez !

DeKaaskopp | 09 October 2020 - 14:43:49

Yeah Lalala, and you should simply follow the invitation to visit the UAE ! Daily flights available from Bangkok.

Kurt | 09 October 2020 - 13:52:40

Are we not puzzled by the fact that daily returning Thai from abroad are tested positive at Suvarnabhumi airport? Those 2000 beds must be almost occupied. We read very little about Covid-19 testing of the population being in Thailand. Is that a policy to keep figures low? Will Thai tourists coming to Phuket for Veg Festival be tested? If not, why not?

Kurt | 09 October 2020 - 13:43:47

That whole STV thing is  stinging one sided Thai money power play. Must pay first,  no money refund when Thai delays because of 'only delayed'. Really, what when the STV traveller has no free time later to come to Thailand?  Can Thai Officialdom think a bit further than the size of their desk? Another image blow here due to showing their money obsession. No 'tourist thinking'.

wagsthedog | 09 October 2020 - 12:44:46

TAT said some 120 tourists on special long-stay visas would fly directly from Guangzhou to the resort island of Phuket this week. Quote: Chinese media has questioned the identity of those tourists, however, with reports unable to confirm any Thailand travel bookings among agents in Guangzhou

wagsthedog | 09 October 2020 - 12:43:05

Who is prepared to travel from another country at great expense with NO vaccine in place. Not the Chinese, quote from Chinese govt:

LALALA | 09 October 2020 - 09:49:20

Of the want tourist back they should simply follow the UAE practice. The problem is that LOS has neither the courage or the facilities to do so. No tourist will come to LOS with mandatory 14 day qurantine period caused by the Flu. 

LALALA | 09 October 2020 - 09:32:05

LOL...2000 beds for covid 19 patients in whole LOS ? What an achievment. Even Yangon in Myanmar has more beds reserved and created in short time...world class healthcare system in LOS...what a complete BS


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