A growing virus outbreak in Thailand threatens to undermine the plan to welcome tourists back. Among the infections, there were 964 domestic transmissions, including 236 in the capital Bangkok.
On Sunday, April 11, local Covid-19 cases hit a new daily record in Thailand, The Straits Times writes.
Since the beginning of the year, the number of cases has risen every so often and the latest figures indicate that the spread of the coronavirus in the Southeast Asian nation is not yet under control. This could jeopardize the country’s efforts to boost the local travel industry, which relies heavily on tourism.
The authorities have urged the population to avoid unnecessary travel. They also called for meetings to be limited to stop the outbreak. This is said to have been fueled by the highly transferable B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in Great Britain. ‘The situation is alarming at the moment. But we can control it if everyone helps, ” senior health official Sopon Iamsirithaworn reported at a briefing.
Thailand plans to reopen Phuket from July and lift the quarantine for vaccinated tourists. The resort island is being used as a testing ground before similar measures are expanded to other tourist hotspots, such as Koh Samui.
At least 38 provinces have required visitors from risk areas to be quarantined for 14 days. Nightclubs, pubs and karaoke bars in Bangkok and 40 provinces will be closed until April 23.
“The outbreak is worrying and could derail Thailand’s plans to resume tourism on a larger scale,” said Jeremy Lim, director of the Leadership Institute for Global Health Transformation at the National University of Singapore. “From a public health point of view, it would be a disaster for the world if Thailand goes ahead with its plans, regardless of the situation on the ground, and becomes a super-dispersal location.”
TWO MONTHS IN JAIL
The managers of two entertainment venues in Bangkok were sentenced to two months in prison for violations of the Covid-19 measures, police said on Sunday. The highest number of infections was reported in Bangkok.
As part of its tourism efforts, Thailand has already approved a list of eight makers of Covid-19 vaccines. Among these are Sinovac Biotech and Pfizer. This is for foreign visitors who want to shorten a mandatory quarantine on arrival.
Before the pandemic, tourism accounted for one-fifth of the economy. After the country closed its borders, the number of foreign tourists fell to the lowest level in at least 12 years.