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It is expected that five selected groups of foreigners and migrant workers will be allowed to enter the country as this week the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) will consider Covid-19 's 6th phase of easing.
Although the country has been free of local transmissions for 55 days, an opinion survey published yesterday showed that there was still public sentiment against plans to open the doors to foreigners.
CCSA spokesperson Taweesilp Visanuyothin said at a press briefing on Sunday that a committee assigned to consider relieving the Covid-19 restrictions discussed the 6th relaxation phase and the issue will be tabled at this week's CCSA full meeting.
The relaxation will include migrant workers in the construction and food export industries, foreign visitors co-organizing trade shows, foreign visitors to film production crews, and foreign travelers who are members of the Thailand Elite Card scheme, Dr. Taweesilp said.
He insisted that the government still gives top priority to public health safety while it is of secondary importance to keep the economy functioning. Effective measures to control illnesses will restore public trust, he said.
He said official checks found that business operators in the "red" or high-risk category who were allowed to reopen cooperated and followed guidelines for disease control to curb disease spread.
When asked by reporters what factors are taken into account when considering whether the emergency decree should be extended or lifted, Dr. Taweesilp said the subcommittee of the CCSA will discuss every angle of the situation based on public health information, economic impact and national security.
The spokesman denied claims that the government had allowed people from abroad infected with Covid-19, including Thai returnees and foreigners, to enter the country in order to dissuade protests against the Government.
"The Facebook page of Mam Pho Dam has claimed a plot is underway to import infected people to trigger a second small wave of infections and extend the emergency decree to prevent student protests," Dr Taweesilp said.
The spokesman said Thai returners from abroad were allowed back home so they could go about their businesses, which in turn would help improve the economy affected by the pandemic, although the government made it compulsory for them to be quarantined first at facilities arranged by the state upon their arrival.
The regulations also apply to a select group of foreigners, Dr Taweesilp said, who will be allowed to enter the country.
Spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Cherdkiat Atthakor, said the Thai Embassy in Russia has informed the ministry that 102 Thai workers in Uzbekistan who want to return to Thailand have been tested and that all of them have returned negative for the disease.
Meanwhile, the Disease Control Department reported the latest test results amid public concern over an infected Egyptian military officer's shopping trip in Rayong and the arrival of a Sudanese diplomat 's daughter who tested positive for the disease late last week.
A further 1,374 people were tested at Rayong last Friday. Of those, 1,369 tested negative while the remaining five test results are still pending.
Overall, more than 5,000 people have tested negative so far which is proof that, according to the department, disease control measures taken to curb the spread of Covid-19 infections following the two health scares have succeeded.
According to the department, a total of 364 people in the same condominium building as the diplomat 's daughter had also tested negative for the virus before she was admitted to hospital.
Meanwhile, according to an opinion survey by Suan Dusit Rajabhat University or Suan Dusit Poll, a vast majority of Thais — 94.5 per cent — say foreigners should be barred from entering the country to prevent a second wave of Covid-19 spreading.
On July 14-18, the poll was conducted online among 1,459 people across the country to gage their reactions to the cases of an Egyptian airman and a Sudanese girl who found themselves infected with Covid-19 after they were allowed to enter the country.
Asked how they felt after hearing about the two cases, 52.2 percent of respondents said they were extremely worried; 39.68 percent said they were fairly worried; 6.58 percent said they were slightly worried; and 1.5 percent said they were not at all concerned.
Asked to mention five things that would worry them if there was a new wave of the Covid-19 spread, with each respondent being allowed to give more than one answer, 95.89 percent quoted the degree to which the disease spreads; 94.45 percent unemployment; 92 percent business shutdown; 84.1 percent schooling for their children; and 84.1 percent another lockdown notification.
A large majority, 73.8 percent, according to the survey, thought the chance of Thailand announcing a second lockdown was high.