Thailand - The sharp surge in coronavirus infections will delay the opening of tourism

Thailand - The sharp surge in coronavirus infections will delay the opening of tourism

Thailand has seen an unprecedented increase in coronavirus infections since last weekend. The Asian country is tightening border controls and is considering stopping plans to ease travel restrictions.

"As things are bad outside of Thailand, the biggest risk right now is the transmission of the disease by people who fly into the country. This could lead to a disaster for our health care system and have a disastrous impact on the economy," Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha said in a Tuesday televised speech.

The head of government said that Thailand must be careful when loosening entry restrictions for external visitors. He also announced that during the meeting of the crisis management staff to be held this week, decisions may be made on restrictions in moving around the New Year's Eve.

A new coronavirus outbreak was detected over the weekend among Burmese fish market workers in Samut Sakhon province near Bangkok. On Saturday, 576 cases related to this outbreak were found. On Monday, there were over 800, and on Tuesday, medical services identified 427 cases, most of which (397) were in migrant workers.

This is an unprecedented worsening of the epidemic. From late April to mid-December, Thailand recorded single and double-digit numbers of daily coronavirus infections, making the country one of the world's best managers of the outbreak.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan on Tuesday dismissed speculation that corrupt immigration officials could be responsible for allowing infected people into the country. However, he added that the military would be sent to protect land borders.

The new outbreak of infection was discovered at a time when the authorities in Bangkok announced further easing of entry restrictions for foreign tourists. Now, these decisions can be reversed, but it remains unclear to what extent.

 

In early December, Thailand lifted restrictions on access to special tourist visas, which can now be applied for by nationals of all countries, regardless of the prevailing epidemic situation. All visitors must have a Covid-19 test negative certificate with them. They are also subject to a 14-day quarantine in certified hotels.

 

Launched in October, the special visa program was designed to help the local tourism industry facing the worst crisis in its history. In 2019, Thailand was visited by almost 40 million foreign vacationers, on which the country located in Southeast Asia earned the equivalent of about 60 billion dollars. The largest group were tourists from China, whose number reached 11 million. According to the Thai central bank, tourism-related revenues have averaged 20% over the past five years. GDP.

Following the new wave of disease, the total number of coronavirus infections detected in Thailand has risen to 5,716 infections. 60 patients died and nearly 4,100 people who were diagnosed with the infection recovered.

Tomasz Augustyniak (PAP)