Suvarnabhumi shows off quick Covid tests

Suvarnabhumi shows off quick Covid tests

Results of B3,000 procedure take 90 minutes for selected foreigners allowed to enter country

A doctor and medical staff demonstrate the lab workflow at the Covid-19 testing laboratory at Suvarnabhumi airport on Friday. (Reuters Photo)
A doctor and medical staff demonstrate the lab workflow at the Covid-19 testing laboratory at Suvarnabhumi airport on Friday. (Reuters Photo)

Suvarnabhumi airport on Friday unveiled rapid coronavirus tests that will be offered for some overseas arrivals now that the three-month ban on foreign visitors has been partially lifted.

All foreigners, except those with work permits, have been barred since March, but after more than five weeks with no recorded community transmission of the virus, the country is preparing to allow some groups of foreigners.

Business travellers, diplomats and government guests staying for less than 14 days are considered “fast-track travellers” who will be swab tested for the disease at the country’s main international airport to make ensure they are infection-free before entry.

“The test itself takes around one hour and a half,” said Suwich Thammapalo, an official of the Department of Disease Control, adding that its use could be expanded in future for other arrivals and tourists.

The airport test, costing 3,000 baht, is one requirement for fast-track entry without spending 14 days in quarantine, and is required of other foreigners recently allowed in, ranging from those with resident status or family in the country, as well as international students.

About 1,700 foreigners have applied to visit Thailand for medical treatment such as cosmetic surgery or fertility treatment after a ban on medical tourism was lifted this month, said Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin, a spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

The government is considering a plan to open more international travel with a “travel bubble” arrangement with some countries in September, he added.

As the pandemic hits travel, the country is expected to draw at most 8 million foreign tourists this year, down 80% from a year earlier, the Tourism Council of Thailand estimates, although the sector is expected to recover in 2021.

Last year, spending by a record 39.8 million foreign tourists accounted for about 11% of GDP. 


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