Shorter quarantine 'still being mulled'
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Shorter quarantine 'still being mulled'

With Thailand preparing to accept foreign tourists to help boost the economy, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has said the idea of shortening the mandatory quarantine period from 14 days has not been dropped.

After meeting Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn on promoting Thailand as a medical hub, Mr Anutin said he learned that the Alternative Hospital Quarantine scheme has generated 114 million baht from 1,149 foreign visitors. The number included 664 patients and 485 people accompanying them.

As of yesterday, 2,220 people have applied to be included in the programme.

Mr Anutin said he wants to see the quarantine period reduced to 10 days as suggested by some academics, but added that safety is the priority.

Tares Krassanairawiwong, director-general of the Health Service Support Department, said those at the meeting agreed to propose opening four more airports to direct flights from abroad in addition to Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang at present. They were Phuket, Samui, Chiang Mai and U-Tapao airports.

Meanwhile, at its daily press conference yesterday, the Public Health Ministry has warned the real number of Covid-19 infections in Thailand was probably about 6,000 cases.

Tanarak Plipat, deputy director-general of the Department of Disease Control (DDC) said that while more than 34 million Covid-19 cases have been recorded worldwide, the real number was likely to be more.

He said this was likely the case in Thailand which had recorded 3,575 cases as of yesterday.

"Our academic team estimates the number of infections in Thailand is actually more than that. It's around 6,000 cases," he said without explaining how the team came up with the number.

He said people should not panic as new cases does not mean a new wave of the pandemic especially if people try to protect themselves and others.

"Now we are going to open for foreign tourists. I stress here that we start with low risk countries of origin," he said.

However, he said the situation in Myanmar and Thailand's border control measures will be a key factor in controlling the pandemic in the kingdom.

Meanwhile, Assoc Prof Thira Woratanarat from Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Medicine, warned in a Facebook post of a possible second wave caused by migrant workers, foreign visitors and other factors following a surge in cases in Myanmar and Malaysia.

A second wave would be fast and harder to control with the number of daily cases higher than normal by 1.3-2.6 times, the doctor said.

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