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Opinion - Don’t rush the lifting of quarantine

24 Jun 2020

As the country's battle with the coronavirus outbreak has produced a satisfactory outcome, it needs time and preparation to reopen the borders.

Abandoning compulsory quarantine at this stage, however, seems premature.

It's been around a month since Thailand reported no infections in the local community.

According to the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), four weeks is considered to be the maximum time a person may have the SARS-CoV-2 virus before they exhibit symptoms.

Upon hitting the milestone of the zero-community outbreak, the CCSA began discussing enabling foreigners to join the region.

CCSA spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin said two groups of foreigners-investors based in Thailand along with medical tourists and short-term businessmen and guests-are likely to be the first to be allowed once the country opens its doors to outsiders.

The first group includes investors, entrepreneurs, migrant workers and health tourists.

The amount is very elevated. CCSA said about 700 investors and businessmen have applied for entry.

About 22,000 are interested for the skilled workers. The number of foreigners wishing to return to their Thai families stands at 2,000 while the highest number of medical tourists is at 30,000. Restrictions for this group are however straightforward.

On arrival in the region, the investors and businessmen will be needed to check into state quarantine.

Meanwhile, medical visitors will travel straight to clinics where they would be quarantined, to seek their medical attention.

However, measures planned for the second group of priorities visitors — short-term businessmen and tourists from countries with travel bubbles pairing with Thailand — seem dubious.

CCSA will search at ways to allow participants from this community to circumvent the quarantine provision, according to Dr Taweesilp.

This is reasonable that the country will slowly open its doors to tourists and ultimately restart all commercial activities including the key engine of the economy, foreign tourism.

It's also obvious that the 14-day quarantine could pose a big challenge to short-term tourists who wouldn't want to spend a fortnight on a single ride.

Absent a vaccination or adequate test, it might appear foolhardy to abandon quarantine only for making profits.

In fact, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha stated earlier that the notion of travel bubbles would not quickly materialise.

The government is still working on the list of countries it will be pairing with and setting restrictions to ensure safe implementation. According to the Government, discussions could go well into the next month.

Why has the CCSA placed on the priority list short-term visitors from travel bubbles if precautionary measures are not yet ready to accommodate these?

An ambiguity in strategy is rarely a smart thing. Since Thais traveling home and entrepreneurs, creditors, practitioners and migrant workers need state quarantine, why would any be exempted?

Globally, the pandemic at Covid-19 has shown no sign of relent. Infection figures have grown to more than nine million men.

The regular report of the CCSA's own also reveals a few new cases involving returning Thais each day. This reality alone will keep politicians from lowering their guard and discarding quarantine again.

Source Bangkok Post