Govt To Reassess Test & Go Measures

Anutin Charnvirakul Says Strike A Balance

The government will on Wednesday weigh up whether it will scrap the second RT-PCR test for overseas arrivals under the Test & Go scheme, Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said.

He said the Department of Disease Control (DDC) and the Emergency Operation Centre under the Public Health Ministry will present proposals for consideration to the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA). One proposal involves scrapping the second RT-PCR test for overseas arrivals, he said.

The Test & Go programme for fully vaccinated travellers resumed on 1st February with travellers required to take two tests, one on the first day of arrival and another on the fifth.

There will be no need for the tests because infections are spreading mostly among locals, while imported infections are relatively low, he said.

Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will chair Wednesday’s CCSA meeting to consider revising requirements for overseas entry into the country, as well as vaccination plans and measures to push for economic recovery.

Previously, Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said the second RT-PCR test required by the Test & Go scheme should be scrapped by March.

He said the ministry and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)would propose a relaxation of entry requirements by replacing the second test with an antigen test kit at Wednesday’s CCSA meeting. If the proposal is approved, the new rule will be applied from next month, he said.

Various tourism business operators in the South and the East as well as the Thai Hotels Association have called on the government to cancel its policy to conduct repeated RT-PCR COVID-19 tests on foreign tourists during the first and fifth days of their stay, which add costs for travellers and burdens hoteliers.

According to the tourism associations, the number of COVID-19 infections found during second RT-PCR tests was lower when compared with infections found among the local population.

Opas Karnkawinpong, the DDC’s director-general, on Tuesday said the Public Health Ministry will ask the CCSA to step up efforts to administer vaccine boosters to at-risk groups.