Thailand is set to relax rules for international arrivals from March 1st despite the continual surge in COVID-19 infections in the country.
The Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has decided to change the second COVID-19 RT-PCR test, currently required for overseas arrivals on their fifth day in the country, to a self-administered rapid antigen test and will reduce the amount of required insurance coverage from US$50,000 to US$20,000.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said today (Wednesday) that the average cost for the treatment of a COVID-19 patient in a private or state hospital in Thailand is about 300,000 baht, including those in a severe condition.
He explained that the original reason for the requirement for US$50,000 insurance coverage for overseas arrivals was because most of the COVID-19 cases were being imported at the time, but the situation now has changed. The infection rate among arrivals is now just one in every 1,000 arrivals.
The CCSA’s decision to reduce the insurance coverage requirement is, he said, to reduce the financial deterrent on travellers who wish to visit to Thailand for business or tourism and the revised coverage requirement is still adequate to cover medical bills.
He also said that the CCSA has decided to opt for rapid antigen tests for the second COVID-19 test for overseas arrivals, because it is widely accepted, is accurate up to a certain level and the Ministry of Public Health has been instructed to report back to the CCSA at a later date about the effects of the change of test type.
Meanwhile, CCSA Spokesman Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin said they have decided to maintain the COVID-19 infection zones as 44 “orange” (controlled) provinces; 25 “yellow” (high surveillance) provinces and 8 “blue” (tourism sandbox) provinces and, while infections continue to surge, the fatality rate remains low.
He said that current infections have already crossed a red line, due to the easing of restrictions, and he warned that, even though most of the infected are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms, those in high-risk groups could still get very sick or die, as he pleaded with the public not to lower their guard.
Thailand recorded a new high of daily COVID-19 infections for this year today at 21,232, the first time the figure surpassed the 20,000-mark again since the peak in mid-August after weeks of increase. 39 more deaths have also been recorded since yesterday.