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Possible government back down on reopening dates due to concerns from prominent doctors

Concerns from the medical profession over reopening Thailand too soon causes the government to consider the current timeline of reopening.

UPDATE : Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang declared on Friday that Thailand’s capital will not reopen to fully vaccinated and COVID-19 negative international arrivals on October 15th, as suggested by Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn on Wednesday

Reopening thailand is part of the PMs plan first announced in June, to welcome fully vaccinated tourists back to the Kingdom within 120 days.

However, Dr. Prasit Watanapa, dean of the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital of Mahidol University,  suggested that the government needs to consider the Phuket Sandbox pilot, where even though over 70% of the islands population was vaccinated, daily infection cases have risen to still over 200 daily cases recently.

Noting these concerns from prominent academics, the government responded through Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul who stated that the decision to reopen is up to medical experts and the Department of Disease Control (DDC).

As reported by the Bangkok post, ”The matter cannot be rushed as information on the pandemic situation and risks must be thoroughly addressed,” Mr Anutin said, adding the government is ready to lend its full support.

“We cannot order [the reopening] yet because we must investigate academic information and make an assessment.”

The minister has sown seeds of doubt that the re-opening will go ahead with his statement, “If we are not ready, the reopening will not be possible, We must look at several factors.”  He further signalled a possible delay by stating that “”No one said the country will reopen on Oct 1.”

The minister’s statement comes shortly after Minister of Tourism and Sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn as well as Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang were seen promoting the potential for a Oct 15 reopening for Bangkok, albeit on the condition of sufficient vaccination for all in the Nations’s capital.  They had stressed the need for all 50 districts to be reopened, not just parts of Bangkok, as this would limit practical movement for tourists.  

Other noted medical professionals have also chimed in, Thira Woratanarat, associate professor at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Medicine, as also warned against reopening Thailand too early.

Dr. Prasit cautioned that in order to ensure safety for the population of Thailand, sufficient vaccination rates must be attained.  “ 60% of the population should be vaccinated with one dose, while 40-50% should be vaccinated with two” he stated.

The doctors still remained concerned about the capacity of the thai health system should another wave or mutation occur, and whether there would be sufficient beds and ICU facilities.  Dr. Thira Woratanarat added, “Thailand remained high and foreign arrivals could bring the virus with them”.

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