Ten million Chinese could visit Thailand next year if mandatory coronavirus quarantine times are cut to 10 days, public health officials said.
Speaking at the “Smart Living with Covid-19” seminar in Bangkok Nov. 13, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration next week will consider the proposal to cut four days from the two-week quarantine period for travelers from low-risk countries.
He said the risk of Thailand experiencing a second wave of coronavirus cases would be very low as the government is much better equipped to control any outbreak and treat patients than it was in the spring with public health officials now having more experience, knowledge, manpower, medical supplies and facilities, including Covid-19 testing labs and beds.
Disease-control resources also include hundreds of disease-investigation teams and a stockpile of more than a half-million doses of antiviral drug Favipiravir, which has shown rapid viral clearance and faster clinical improvement in some clinical trials.
Dr. Kiatiphum Wongrajit, the ministry’s permanent secretary, said a shorter quarantine could prompt visits from 10 million Chinese next year, as Thailand considers China a low-risk country.
He said eight months of operating state quarantine centers have shown that the overwhelming majority of Covid-19 cases emerge in the first 10 days. He went on to say, if 100 million Chinese tourists come, only about 100 of them – two a week – would develop Covid-19 after leaving quarantine.
Kiatiphum said Thailand is more than capable of handling two new cases a week, but if more emerge, then the shorter quarantine would be re-evaluated. Conversely, the permanent secretary said, if fewer than two cases emerge, then quarantine could be cut to just seven days.
Anutin said it was important that Thailand reopen its borders to tourism again and revive the economy, but would only do so safely to ensure the country doesn’t again experience an uncontrolled outbreak.