China arrivals to skip virus testing
Checks could step up as tourists increase
The Covid-19 screening test for arrivals from China at their points of entry might not be necessary for the time being although their vaccination documents will be checked, say communicable disease experts.
The suggestion came at a meeting organised by the Department of Disease Control (DDC) on Saturday where they also assessed the Covid-19 outbreak in China and the expected increase in arrivals after its border reopening on Jan 8. The DDC operates under the National Committee for Communicable Disease.
Dr Tares Krassanairawiwong, the DDC director-general, said nearly five million visitors from China are expected this year while travel to China from Thailand will also increase.
Covid-19 safety measures will be considered in proportion to the virus' prevalence in China.
Committee chairman Dr Somwang Danchaivijitr said the necessity for a non-discriminatory screening protocol must also be factored in.
At the same time, measures must inspire confidence among travellers and tourism businesses and remain consistent with similar practices adopted by other countries, he said.
Participants agreed that on-site screening at airports for arrivals from China might not be necessary just yet, as the risk is still manageable.
However, the committee has prepared guidelines for handling travellers arriving from China from Jan 8 as well as foreign travellers in general.
Those arriving from China will need to produce a Covid-19 vaccine certificate and must present evidence of short-term health insurance covering the infection.
The requirements will be communicated to those in China planning a trip to Thailand, by agencies including the Foreign Affairs Ministry, and airlines and tourism bureaus.
Random tests will also be performed on travellers entering or leaving the kingdom to assess the response measures.
Medical facilities will also set aside spare resources for treating foreign travellers who may fall sick with Covid-19, especially in tourist provinces.
Basic public health advice will be given to foreign travellers on wearing face masks and frequent use of hand gel. A hotline will be opened for travellers with health inquiries.
Tourism businesses have also been told to adhere to public health safety standards when preparing accommodation and shops for foreign customers.
Also, tourism operators and workers who come into close contact with the visitors should be fully vaccinated with at least two booster jabs.
Public health authorities will provide the booster shots for workers in the tourism and transport sectors.
Further measures include a requirement for a medical certificate showing a negative Covid-19 test result and travel insurance that covers the potential cost of treatment for the virus.
These requirements have been written in parallel with the Public Health Ministry's safety measures.