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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Will Thailand’s reopening take place or not, now that the Minister of Health has doubts

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Thailand’s health minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, has responded to comments from top medics questioning the wisdom of reopening the country next month. The minister said any reopening needs the green light from the Department of Disease Control, adding that nothing has been confirmed yet.

“No one has said that the country will reopen in October, according to a remarkable statement from this ‘popular’ minister.”

The Bangkok Post briefly reports the fact that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said in June that Thailand would reopen to vaccinated tourists within 120 days, but that should not spoil the fun. Meanwhile, the country is currently in the midst of a Covid crisis, with some health experts saying the government is in too much of a hurry.

Meanwhile, Khun Anutin said that their opinions will be taken into account when making the final decision.

“The matter cannot be rushed as information about the pandemic situation and risks must be thoroughly addressed. We cannot determine (the reopening) yet because we need to research scientific information and make an assessment. If we are not ready, the reopening will not be possible. We have to look at several factors.”

Meanwhile, the tourism minister is understandably more eager to let the reopening go ahead. This minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, says that more than 70% of Bangkok residents have received their first dose of a Covid19 vaccine. 38% have received both.

Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang says the capital should be ready to reopen on October 17, as he expects 70% of residents to be fully vaccinated by then. All 50 districts of the capital will be included in the reopening plan, including Din Daeng and Huay Kwang, despite having Covid-19 clusters, as Phiphat says the situation will be under control by then.

However, Thira Woratanarat of the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University has his doubts. He continues to warn against reopening the country, saying infections remain high and vaccinated foreign tourists could still introduce or even contract the virus while vacationing in Thailand.

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