Bangkok, Jun 16 (EFE).- Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha on Wednesday announced that within a period of 120 days, the 14-day mandatory quarantine will not be required for travelers vaccinated against Covid-19.
In a televised speech, Prayut said it was necessary to open the country to ease the economic losses caused by more than a year of restrictions, even as Thailand is currently witnessing its worst wave of the pandemic.
“I know this decision comes with some risk because when we open the country there will be an increase in infections, no matter how good our precautions. But, I think, when we take into consideration the economic needs of people, the time has now come for us to take that calculated risk,” he said.
Currently all travelers arriving in Thailand have to observe a 14-day quarantine in a hotel or government accommodation under vigilance.
The measure has severely affected tourism, which accounted for 12-20 percent of Thailand’s GDP before the pandemic.
Prayut said that next week his cabinet would discuss a pilot project to withdraw quarantine requirements on the island of Phuket.
The plan, which could be implemented in July, would allow vaccinated travelers to fly to Phuket without having to undergo quarantine, although they would not be allowed to leave the island for two weeks.
The prime minister said that his government, which has so far received the AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines, is negotiating with Sinopharm, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson for more supplies. He said Bangkok on Wednesday secured an order for 105 million vaccine doses, to be delivered over the next few months.
“Based on our current plans, we will administer an average of around 10 million shots a month from July, so that by early October almost 50 million people will have had at least their first shots administered,” the leader said.
Having shut down its borders and enforced other measures early on, Thailand remained relatively unaffected by the pandemic until the recent surge that began in March and has led to cases going past 202,000, with over 1,400 deaths registered so far.
So far vaccination has progressed at a slow rate, with around 4.76 people having received at least one vaccine dose out of a population of around 69 million.
Thailand’s vaccine strategy largely depends on AstraZeneca, which is set to locally produce millions of doses to be supplied both domestically and in other countries of the region. EFE