Thailand week in review: Thai government extends RT-PCR test for all arrivals, and more

PHOTO: Prachachat

Here is a look at the top NATIONAL stories, chosen by our Pattaya News/TPN National team, from last week, November 29th to December 5th, with some commentary. They are not in any particular level of importance but are listed in the order of date of publication.

PHOTO: Siamrath

1. Thai government extends RT-PCR test usage for all arrivals to attempt to prevent the Omicron Covid-19 variant

The use of the RT-PCR test will continue for all Thai and foreign arrivals and the use of the ATK (Rapid Antigen) Test Kit will be delayed following the occurrence of the new Omicron Covid-19 variant. Although there has not yet been enough information about the new variant to properly determine if it was more deadly, transmissible, or could evade vaccines, the PCR usage extension will be implemented to potentially prevent the Omicron variant as the number of mutations since its first discovery is very concerning, according to prominent epidemiologists.

Thai government extends RT-PCR test usage for all arrivals to attempt to prevent the Omicron Covid-19 variant

2. 252 Thai and foreign travelers from eight southern African countries were urged to seek RT-PCR tests for free immediately

The remaining visitors from eight southern African countries traveling to Thailand from November 15th to the 27th prior to a traveling ban were encouraged to present themselves to the Thai authorities and seek RT-PCR tests to detect the possible new Omicron Covid-19 variant for free, according to the Thai Covid-19 center request. As of Friday, 167 arrivals are currently staying in Thailand. 50 out of the remaining travelers are trackable via applications and there is another 133 left who are under the tracking and identification process.

3. No signs of tourism slowdown despite Omicron spread, Thailand’s Tourism Authorities expect 500,000 international arrivals by year-end

The trend of international travelers is not yet affected by the discovery and the spread of Omicron in many countries around the world, at least according to the TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) governor. By looking at the number of “Thailand Pass” applicants since the reopening of the country to foreign vaccinated tourists in November, the TAT estimated that more than 500,000 tourists would be recorded entering Thailand by the end of December. However, the number may be quite ambitious as there are less than 30 days left in the year and concerns around the new variant. Thailand needs to reach roughly between 16,000 to 17,000 tourists per day to reach the TAT goal.

4. Entertainment venues reopening in January may be delayed again, Thai Prime Minister states

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan O’Cha stated to the press on Thursday that entertainment venues, like bars and nightclubs, reopening nationwide might be delayed at least for a month. Previously, the CCSA (Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration) cabinet committee announced via spokesperson Taweesilp Visanuyothin that they would consider the reopening as soon as everything is ready which could be earlier than January 16th. The nighttime businesses, including bars, nightclubs, pubs, and similar entertainment venues, have been closed for about nine months since early April and had limited financial support or aid from the government according to many owners, forcing many of them to close down while their employees became jobless. However, many had become “restaurants” in the meantime, allowing them to open temporarily, although the size and scope of their restaurant model varied widely.

Entertainment venues reopening in January may be delayed, Thai Prime Minister states

And, that is all for this week. Thank you as always for reading the Pattaya News/TPN News!

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National News Writer at The Pattaya News from September 2020 to October, 2022. Born and raised in Bangkok, Nop enjoys telling stories of her hometown through her words and pictures. Her educational experience in the United States and her passion for journalism have shaped her genuine interests in society, politics, education, culture, and art.