Test & Go gets off to good start
23k-plus travellers register on first day
More than 23,000 travellers registered for entry under the Test & Go programme on Tuesday, the first day the suspended travel scheme resumed.
Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said that a total of 29,194 foreigners applied for the Thailand Pass on Tuesday.
Of them, 23,660 registered for the "Test & Go" scheme and the number of registrations is expected to increase, he said.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha instructed agencies involved to coordinate efforts to welcome back foreign tourists while following Covid-19 precautions to resuscitate the tourism sector, the spokesman said.
The premier also attached importance to using soft power to promote tourism and culture, and placed emphasis on wellness tourism to attract health-conscious tourists, Mr Thanakorn said.
The Test & Go programme for fully vaccinated travellers resumed on Tuesday with travellers required to take two tests, one on the first day of arrival and another on the fifth.
The scheme was suspended last month in response to growing concerns about the Omicron coronavirus variant.
Under the programme, overseas travellers must spend one night in a certified hotel while they wait for the result of their first RT-PCR test. Those who test negative can leave and explore the rest of the country.
Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul gave assurances on Wednesday the two tests required for Test & Go arrivals are a safe approach to handling visitors and containing the spread of the virus.
Travellers can be tracked using Thailand Pass registration information, the minister said.
"I met several foreigners who came to do business in Thailand and they said the travel measures are very strict.
"Many foreigners have praised our health safety measures," Mr Anutin said, urging business operators not to compromise on precautions.
Asked by reporters if the government will consider easing virus curbs further, such as by allowing nightlife venues to reopen, Mr Anutin said such venues must be strictly controlled, though they are still allowed to operate as restaurants to earn money and keep their businesses running.
"Almost all clusters of infections started from alcohol consumption, and strict controls must remain in place," Mr Anutin said.
Regarding the vaccination of children aged five to 11 years old, Mr Anutin said children with underlying health problems will receive the vaccines first.
He also said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will meet tomorrow to consider certification of the use of Sinovac's Covid-19 vaccine for minors between the ages of three and 17.
If the FDA certifies that the vaccine is safe to be used on this age group, the vaccine will serve as another alternative for children, though advice on the administration of the vaccine must be sought from paediatricians first, Mr Anutin said.
In December last year, the FDA approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children between the age of five and 11.
Thailand registered 8,587 new cases of coronavirus and 22 more Covid-19 fatalities during the previous 24 hours, the Public Health Ministry said on Wednesday. The 22 new fatalities were between the ages of 21 and 94. There were 8,401 new infections in the general population, 55 among prison inmates and 131 imported cases.
Bangkok continued to register the the largest number of new cases at 1,431, followed by 823 in Samut Prakan, 421 in Nonthaburi, 387 in Phuket, 385 in Chon Buri, 276 in Ratchaburi, 181 in Si Sa Ket, 166 in Pathum Thani, 155 in Khon Kaen and 146 in Chiang Mai.