On Wednesday, the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) will deliberate on whether or not Thailand will reduce the mandatory coronavirus quarantine period from 14 to 10 days, despite a call for a postponement by its sub-committee.
The sub-committee reportedly held a meeting on Monday and decided that the CCSA should delay making a decision until after the New Year.
Reports said subcommittee members had raised several concerns when they met. Currently, anyone suspected of contracting COVID-19 must spend 14 days in quarantine. The rule applies to travellers arriving in the kingdom.
The sub-committee also calls on the government to extend the Emergency Decree by one more month after it expires on 30th November.
Anutin Charnvirakul, Minister of Public Health, defended the ministry’s proposal to reduce the mandatory quarantine period.
Mr Charnvirakul told the media on Monday the proposal is in line with public health policy.
“The shorter quarantine period idea is an acceptable risk since only travellers from low-risk countries would be eligible to come here,” the minister said.
The Public Health Emergency Operation Centre earlier this month approved the ministry’s proposal to allow low-risk tourists under the kingdom’s special tourist visa (STV) programme to only undergo quarantine for 10 days.
Mr Charnvirakul argued that the quarantine period should be shortened so the country can move forward and recover from the adverse effects the pandemic has had on the tourism industry.
He stressed that Thailand has enough medical resources to manage COVID-19 patients, claiming Thai physicians are capable of preventing a widespread outbreak.
Thira Woratanarat, a lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, on his Facebook page urged people to be prepared for the country’s reopening to foreign visitors.
The doctor warned that imported cases will be on the rise and warned that local transmissions will also escalate if the quarantine period is shortened.
He said people should wear a face mask, wash their hands and practise social distancing.
Some physicians have voiced fears that local infections could increase tenfold, or the equivalent of 700 patients per day on average if the quarantine period was shortened.
The government recorded a single new imported case of the novel coronavirus on Monday, bringing the accumulated total in Thailand to 3,875.
The CCSA said the new patient was a Japanese man who flew into the country on Friday and tested positive on arrival.