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  • No vaccine, no entry – the next challenge of Covid-19

    No vaccine, no entry – the next challenge of Covid-19
    The Thaiger





    With the announcements this week about several vaccine candidate trials, either being completed or at the end of their Phase 3 testings, and the applications to government bodies for ‘emergency approval’, we now have to face the next question.


    What restrictions will be imposed on those people who don’t have the vaccine, or even actively choose not to have the vaccine?

    And more locally…


    Will Thailand allow people to enter Thailand without first having the Covid-19 vaccine?


    Given the Thai Government’s low-risk strategy, well almost zero-risk strategy, and reluctance to take any chances with a second wave of Covid 19, it is highly likely there will be a stipulation that anyone entering Thailand will need a vaccine certificate or stamp in their passports.

    Couple this with the Thai population’s continued fear of allowing foreigners back into the country at this time, in poll after poll, and it’s a safe bet there will be a “no vaccine, no entry” restriction imposed.


    On a positive note, the Thai government may drop the 14 day quarantine for people that have had the vaccine (but not in the early days).


    At this stage we know that most of the vaccine trials have had a 95% efficacy. We also know that the leading BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine needs an original jab plus a booster and has to be transported at extremely low temperature.

    To complicate matters, there is not yet sufficient evidence that having had a bout of Covid-19, whether asymptomatic or not, guarantees you immunity. Or, if it does, for how long?


    All these factors will mean that some level of quarantine will probably be in force as the Thai government slowly re-opens its borders to a wider groups of vaccinated travellers. This would remain in force until the world has a better knowledge of both the proven efficacy of the vaccine, or vaccines, and the re-infection rates.


    So, even if we start getting groups of the world’s populations vaccinated before the end of the year, and that’s still a very big IF, there’s a lot more water to pass under the bridge until a coherent, reliable vaccine strategy can be understood and implemented.


    Then there will be a rump of people, either hard core anti-vaxxers, or others who are at least skeptical of a new vaccine, who will want to wait or not want the vaccine at all. Public education, some strong science and a successful roll out of the early vaccines will be a key to winning over a lot of the world’s population.


    Somehow governments and health authorities are going to have to wind back much of the disinformation floating around the internet about vaccines that is so factually out of whack with reality, it’s going to be one of the greatest public health challenges of all time, to reassure people about the science of vaccines and vaccination.


    All this, in the middle of a pandemic that, for now, is still on the ascendency as far as new cases and deaths are concerned.


    But there is little doubt rejoining the world of international travel, even local travel, could become restricted to only those who are vaccinated. The rest will be stuck roaming around their own countries, or states, for… years with a raft of restrictions on their lives. Who knows.


    Will shopping centres or public buildings also impose a “no vaccine, no entry” policy? Hotels? Public buildings? Job applications?


    On top of the economic stress which has fallen on a lot of the world, with so many governments now facing the headwinds of deep recession, the vaccine ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ will add even more public disquiet.


    At this stage nobody is sure how the vaccine will be rolled out in Thailand. The Thai government has already signed up for several of the leading vaccine candidates and will most likely provide the vaccine for free to citizens under its public health system.


    What does that mean for foreigners living here? If you are covered, with a work permit, under the country’s public health, are you able to get the vaccine for free too? Will the thousands of foreigners on private health insurance be covered?


    Surely the insurers will want its customers to be vaccinated. Sick customers cost them money. So, will insurance renewals be limited to only people who have been vaccinated? Will visas be renewed only if you have been vaccinated?


    At this stage there are no firm answers to any of these questions.


    And then there is the SARS Cov2 virus (Covid-19) itself, a living virus which has the ability to mutate and adapt. Will these new vaccines be effective against all mutations? Again, this is all ahead of us.


    We’re certainly now entering a new phase of this pandemic. New challenges, new questions. The rising numbers of cases throughout 2020 is only the first chapter of a book that will be many more years in the making.


    Source: https://thethaiger.com/news/national/no-vaccine-no-entry-the-next-challenge-of-covid-19



    -- © Copyright The Thaiger 2020-11-24
    24 November 2020
  • Thailand Live Wednesday 25 Nov 2020

    No narcotics in Thailand's ‘biggest ever drug haul’ – only cleaning agent

    By The Nation



    File photo


    Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin has admitted that the chemical seized in what was initially billed as the biggest drugs haul in Thailand’s history is not ketamine, but a harmless cleaning agent.


    Full story: https://forum.thaivisa.com/topic/1193682-no-narcotics-in-thailands-‘biggest-ever-drug-haul’-–-only-cleaning-agent/

    24 November 2020
  • Panusaya named one of world’s most inspiring women of 2020 by BBC

    Panusaya named one of world’s most inspiring women of 2020 by BBC

    By The Nation



    Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul (left), Kotchakorn Voraakhom (centre), and Cindy Sirinya Bishop (right)


    Protest leader Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul has been named as one of the world’s 100 most inspirational and influential women of 2020 by the BBC.


    Panusaya, a leader of the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration group, made international headlines in August when she read out a 10-point manifesto at a Bangkok rally.


    She is among three Thais on the BBC’s “100 Women of 2020” list.


    The other two are Kotchakorn Voraakhom, an urban landscape architect, and Cindy Sirinya Bishop, an actress, model and TV host who also campaigns to end violence against women.


    Kotchakorn began her work by prising apart the “cracked pavement” of Bangkok’s sprawling cityscape and letting the seedlings of fresh ideas burst through, said the BBC. She seeks to nurture public and green spaces so as to make megacities more liveable and resistant to climate change.


    Cindy was this year appointed UN Women regional goodwill ambassador for gender equality through education, communities and governments. She made headlines by founding the #DontTellMeHowToDress movement in 2018 after authorities told women not to look “sexy” if they wanted to avoid sexual assault at Songkran.


    Women shortlisted in the BBC's list this year come from a wide variety of professions. They include Sanna Marin, who leads Finland's all-female coalition government, Michelle Yeoh, a rising star in Hollywood, and Sarah Gilbert, who heads Oxford University’s research into a coronavirus vaccine.


    This year’s list highlights women who are leading change in turbulent times.


    Source: https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30398506



    -- © Copyright The Nation Thailand 2020-11-25
    24 November 2020
  • Covid fears vs Starving to death? Tourism businesses give their verdict: Open up Thailand!

    Covid fears vs Starving to death? Tourism businesses give their verdict: Open up Thailand!



    Picture: Voice TV


    Voice TV asked some tourist businesses their opinion about opening up Thailand. 


    They got a clear answer: Open up the country now. 


    The message was put in stark terms. 


    There are still fears about Covid-19 but not opening up the country to foreign tourists would mean they would starve to death.



    Picture: Voice TV


    Amporn W. who owns a massage shop in Huay Kwang, Bangkok, said business was terrible. All her customers were Chinese and Taiwanese so she had virtually none now. 


    There were few Thais wanting her service. She didn't know if she could last past the end of the year. 


    Yes, Covid was a worry to her but you could get the disease and recover. 


    What recovery was there from starving to death, she asked. None.



    Picture: Voice TV


    The same was true of Jinda L. and Noprada W. who run a restaurant that caters to foreigners. They implored the government to open up the country to improve the economy. 


    They couldn't charge as much for Thais as they could do for foreigners, they lamented. 


    They too were worried about Covid but the state of their business was another form of death. They couldn't last longer either.


    As always Voice found that people wanted quarantine to ensure the virus was not brought in, albeit suggesting that it was reduced to a few days or about a week. 


    And there is the crux of the matter. 


    Who is going to come for a short holiday if they have to quarantine for any length of time?



    Picture: Voice TV


    Voice referred to the Special Tourist Visa that so far has meant a few tourists arriving for long stay trips.


    But this involves 14 day quarantine and there have been few people prepared to do it.


    It is not the answer.


    Opening up the country now is the only answer to stop more tourism businesses going to the wall was the overriding message from their article. 


    Source: Voice TV




    -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2020-11-24
    24 November 2020
  • Thailand allows thousands of migrants to extend work permits

    Thailand allows thousands of migrants to extend work permits

    By Matt Blomberg, Thomson Reuters Foundation




    Nov 13 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Tens of thousands of migrant workers in Thailand whose work permits are expiring have been granted permission to stay in the country for another two years, yet campaigners said the cost of the extension could fuel debt bondage and worker exploitation.


    The Thai labour ministry this week said a total of about 130,000 migrants from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos who had entered the country under bilateral labour agreements and whose permits expired from this month through December 2021 would be eligible.


    “This is in order to lower the spread of coronavirus, solve the labour shortage and also protect the rights of migrant workers who come to Thailand legally,” the country’s labour minister Suchat Chomklin said in a statement.


    Thailand has about 2.8 million registered migrant workers, mainly from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. But the United Nations estimates that 2 million more work informally across the country in sectors including fishing, construction and agriculture.


    At least 90,000 migrant workers scrambled to leave Thailand when its land borders were closed in March to stem the spread of coronavirus. The Southeast Asian nation has so far recorded 60 deaths related to COVID-19 among at least 3,850 infections.


    Migrants who wish to extend their permits will have to undergo health checks and pay a fee of 1,900 baht ($63), causing concern among campaigners who said the cost could be inflated by employers and labour brokers and drive workers deeper into debt.


    Across Southeast Asia, migrants must pay a variety of fees to recruiters and bosses to secure jobs abroad, trapping many in exploitative workplaces as they struggle to clear their debts.


    “There will be lots of profiteering ... by brokers, by employers,” said Khun Tharo, a program director at Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights, a Cambodian non-profit.


    “Thailand needs migrant workers to keep its economy running - they should make the process free,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.


    Debt bondage is one of the world's most prevalent forms of modern slavery, affecting an estimated 610,000 people in Thailand, according to the rights group Walk Free Foundation.


    (Reporting by Matt Blomberg, Additional Reporting by Nanchanok Wongsamuth Editing by Kieran Guilbert. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit news.trust.org)



    -- © Copyright Reuters 2020-11-14
    14 November 2020
  • No narcotics in Thailand's ‘biggest ever drug haul’ – only cleaning agent

    No narcotics in Thailand's ‘biggest ever drug haul’ – only cleaning agent

    By The Nation



    File photo


    Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin has admitted that the chemical seized in what was initially billed as the biggest drugs haul in Thailand’s history is not ketamine, but a harmless cleaning agent.


    Somsak explained on Tuesday that when the first test was carried out on 11.5 tonnes of the white powder, it turned the reagent purple – a match for ketamine. But after testing again, the substance was found to be trisodium phosphate, a cleaning agent and food additive which also turns the testing reagent purple.


    The mistake was caused by an error in the scientific process, he added.


    The seizure made worldwide headlines on November 12 when officials including Somsak announced they had made the largest drugs bust in Thai history. The chemical was found inside 475 sacks piled in a warehouse in Chachoengsao and was said to be worth Bt28.7 billion.


    The raid on the warehouse in the eastern province followed a tip-off from officials in Taiwan, who told the Narcotics Control Board they had seized 300 kilos of ketamine, but more was on its way to Thailand. The Thai shipment was seized and tested, with the results checked by scientists from the Justice Ministry and the Forensic Department before the “haul” was announced to the press.


    However, subsequent tests on 59 of the sacks showed no ketamine was present. The Justice Ministry said the remaining 406 sacks will now be examined by the NBC, Forensic Science police, and Department of Medical Sciences, with test results due this week.


    On Monday, lawyer and transparency activist Atchariya Ruengrattanapong accused Somsak of negligence over the 11.5-tonne seizure and asked the anti-corruption agency to look into the case.


    Somsak insisted that he had not bullied anyone, adding that he had set up a working group to investigate what had gone wrong.


    Source: https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30398505



    -- © Copyright The Nation Thailand 2020-11-24



    Related story:

    Thailand seizes nearly $1 billion worth of ketamine



    24 November 2020
  • Government to introduce “Thailand Plus” application for foreign tourists

    Government to introduce “Thailand Plus” application for foreign tourists




    The Thai government is to introduce a new application, called “Thailand Plus”, to enable the tracing of foreign tourists in the country.



    Mr. Sompote Arhunai, CEO of the Energy Absolute Company, which developed the “Mor Chana” application, said that the Thailand Plus app functions like Mor Chana, but it will link to information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, regarding the certificate of entry (COE) of the arriving foreign tourists, for screening and tracing, from arrival in Thailand, for the prevention of COVID-19 spread.


    Similar to a GPS system, he said that officials will know the whereabouts of the tourists during their stay in Thailand, in case any of them are found to have contracted the contagion, so that action can be taken immediately to prevent its spread.


    Full story: https://www.thaipbsworld.com/government-to-introduce-thailand-plus-application-for-foreign-tourists/


    23 November 2020
  • Thailand to launch vaccine production ‘in first half of 2021’

    Thailand to launch vaccine production ‘in first half of 2021’

    By The Nation



    Photo credit: freepik


    AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine should be available in Thailand in the first half of 2021, under a technology-transfer deal signed with the Thai government.


    Siam Bioscience will receive the technology for the vaccine, which was developed by a team at Oxford University.


    The Thai firm expects to register the vaccine with the Food and Drug Administration in the next six months, and produce enough doses for Thailand and Asean neighbours in the first half of 2021. Initially, 26 million doses will be produced for 13 million Thais.


    Siam Bioscience has a production capacity of 180 million to 200 million doses per year or 15 million doses per month.


    Disease Control Department director-general Opas Karnkawinpong estimates Thailand needs 2 million doses per month. The rest will be exported to neighbouring countries.


    The Vaccine Board is expected to reveal in December which groups will receive the vaccine first, after considering mortality rates, chance of infection, etc. Judging from the 2009 influenza vaccination programme, the first group to receive the vaccine will be the elderly and vulnerable people with underlying diseases.


    Results from phase 3 of clinical trials showed the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was 70 per cent effective, rising to 90 per cent if a half dose then a full dose was administered.


    The company will now submit the results to the UK and European Food and Drug Administrations for approval.


    AstraZeneca and Oxford University are committed to expanding the vaccine capacity to the world population with a target of Bt3.1 billion doses per year.


    Source: https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30398519



    -- © Copyright The Nation Thailand 2020-11-25
    24 November 2020
  • American businesspeople to meet Prayut

    American businesspeople to meet Prayut

    By The Nation



    Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow


    The US-Asean Business Council will lead Thailand-based American businesspersons to a meeting with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Wednesday, said Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow.


    The deputy PM said he has spoken to some of these businesspeople and has assured them that Thailand has the potential to draw foreign investment. Thai firms also stand ready to partner up with companies from the US.


    Supattanapong said Thailand has developed many new industries and adjusted its development strategy, so the country does not depend solely on any one sector.


    Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said some 88 American businesspersons are expected to meet the premier, adding that some will meet Prayut in person, while others via video conferencing.


    The subjects on the agenda will be investment and international trade. They are also expected to offer ideas on how investing in Thailand can be made easy for foreigners.


    Source: https://www.nationthailand.com/business/30398497



    -- © Copyright The Nation Thailand 2020-11-25
    24 November 2020
  • Pandemic is a "golden opportunity" to reintroduce "premium" tourists to the wonders of Thai culture

    Pandemic is a "golden opportunity" to reintroduce "premium" tourists to the wonders of Thai culture



    Picture: Bangkok Biz News


    A leader in the development of tourism in Thailand's communities has said that the pandemic represents a "golden opportunity" to redirect tourists in the area of communities, culture and handicrafts.


    Achiraya Thammaparipatana of Hivesters thinks it is time to reconnect with what every tourist wants - to understand more about the real Thailand. 


    She acknowledged that at present foreign tourists were completely absent and that her company needed to focus its efforts on the Thai domestic market.



    Picture: Bangkok Biz News


    But the model of increasing knowledge of the way of life of local communities could be easily applied to foreigners once they return.


    She claimed that everyone wants to learn about things like weaving bags and baskets and mats, fishing and painting on handicrafts and the like. 


    The "new normal" should be an opportunity to attract what she called "premium tourists" (explained as quality tourists in the Bangkok Biz News article). 


    Wanwipha Panumat who develops community projects agreed saying that quality tourism was better than cheap tourism. 


    Tourists wanted valuable experiences and directing them to the heart of the real Thailand would be better for them and help to revive local economies that have been devastated by the pandemic. 



    Picture: Bangkok Biz News


    The article quoted figures from the United Nation World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) who said that international tourism was down 97% in April as the pandemic struck. 



    Picture: Bangkok Biz News


    There has been little recovery in Thailand with the previous top three markets - the Chinese, Russians and Malaysians - all absent along with the money they used to bring. 


    Source: Bangkok Biz News



    -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2020-11-20
    20 November 2020