BANGKOK, Sept 17 (Bernama): Thailand’s plan to reopen Bangkok to fully vaccinated tourists effective Oct 1 has been postponed by two weeks to Oct 15, as the targeted vaccination rate has yet to be achieved for safe opening of its tourists friendly destinations.
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn pointed out to date only about 37 per cent of Bangkok’s population have completed two-doses vaccination, falling short of the 70 per cent target.
"Another 33 per cent of the city’s population are scheduled to receive their second dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine following an interval of between 8 and 12 weeks by then,” he said.
The decision to postpone came about after Phiphat and Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang met over the reopening of Bangkok and four other provinces - Chonburi, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Chiang Mai on Oct 1.
After the success seen in "Phuket Sandbox” and "Samui Plus”, Thailand is pushing to reopen more of its popular tourist destinations starting October to revive its tourism industry hard hit by Covid-19 pandemic.
As many tourists choose to visit Bangkok before traveling to other provinces, Phiphat said the ministry would launch a pilot programme where tourist could stay in the capital city for just seven days before travelling to eight provinces.
The eight provinces are Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Cha-am, Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi and Phang Nga.
Meanwhile, Siriraj Hospital’s dean of the Faculty of Medicine Prof Dr Prasit Watanapa proposed the reopening of Bangkok to Nov 1 as the COVID-19 vaccination rate has yet to reach a ‘safe level’.
"The government should wait for one more month to ensure that the country is ready to reopen for tourists.
"We have learnt from the Phuket Sandbox programme that people who have been fully vaccinated can still get infected and spread the disease. I also strongly suggest not to lift the quarantine measures in the meantime,” he was quoted saying by The Nation daily.
He added that it is premature for Thailand to reopen its door to foreign travelers on Oct 1 as the only 38 per cent of the country’s population received at least one dose of vaccine, while only 18 per cent completed two-doses vaccination.
Meanwhile, Thailand plans to inoculate 4.35 million students aged between 12 and 18 years old before school reopens, tentatively in November.
Education Permanent Secretary Supat Champathong said the inoculation is scheduled to start next month and the second jab will be administered three weeks later.
"We hope the school will be reopen for the second semester in November this year,” he said.
Amid COVID-19 outbreak in the kingdom, all schools in Thailand have been closed since the first semester of the 2021 academic year.
Over the last 24 hours, Thailand recorded 13, 897 new COVID-19 cases and 188 deaths, bringing the total infections in the kingdom to 1,434, 237 and 14,953 fatalities. - Bernama