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It's probably the most check-in counters at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport in a while. Officials are using the area as a makeshift vaccination center, where airline staff are lined up to receive a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. As Thailand finds itself battling a far virulent third wave of the virus, the initiative is the latest attempt to speed up vaccine delivery.
At one of the converted check-in counters, airport staff, including immigration officials and airline employees, can register for inoculation, with officials expecting to vaccinate around 1,000 people a day. According to CTV News, the airport's vaccination drive means Suvarnabhumi is humming with more activity than it's been in the last year after international travel is abruptly halted and passenger numbers plummeted due to the pandemic.
Thailand received nearly 40 million tourists in 2019, with most arriving at Suvarnabhumi Airport. Just 6,737 visitors arrived in the Kingdom last month. Given the amount of space available, one airport worker, Siwaporn Singkhrut, says the airport's vaccination service could easily be expanded to cover other members of the public.
“Right now, only a portion of the airport is open to the public, and it would be even better if it was fully open so people can come in to get vaccinated.”
A cluster of infections that first took hold in Bangkok's fashionable Thong Lor district has now sparked a serious third way of the virus, which has rapidly spread across the country. Since the beginning of the month, the number of infections has doubled, as well as the number of deaths has also increased. There are fears that the country's health service will be unable to cope if the numbers keep rising, but officials are resisting calls for a lockdown, given the devastating economic implications. The government also come in for harsh criticism over the slow pace at which the national vaccine rollout and the limited number of doses available.