July 1 seems so far away as the rest of the world has moved on and opened up, with many SE Asian destinations also dispensing with many of their Covid-arrival procedures already, or in the next month.
Whilst the rest of the world has established new travel lanes and travel bubbles, Thailand remains in a time bubble, stuck mid-2021 in a pre-Omicron world of curfews, restrictions and incoming travellers treated like extras in The Andromeda Strain (a 1971 sci-fi B-grade movie about a viral pandemic).
Travellers arriving in Thailand are still welcomed by the completely unnecessary vista of awaiting PPE-clad officials with their swabs and checklists. After being whisked through immigration they continue in their escorted isolation to a pre-paid SHA+ hotel to have their also-pre-paid PCR test.
They then live in hope for a negative test, after reading hundreds of horror stories from people that didn’t receive the news they were hoping for, and ended up whisked away to alternative quarantine accommodation, at their expense, or the joy of spending another 9 or so days at the SHA+ hotel they had only selected because it was the cheapest option for the first night stay (in a location they never really wanted to stay).
But July 1 is now the D-Day where the Covid clouds will apparently part to reveal the sunshine and cool breezes of Thailand’s post-covid world, if you believe all the hoopla from Thailand’s health and tourism tzars.
On Wednesday, Thailand’s National Communicable Disease Committee approved Thailand’s Public Health Ministry plans to classify Covid-19 as an endemic disease, starting on July 1… “if things go according to plan”.
Covid, a coronavirus, eagerly awaits the orders and dates from Thailand’s CCSA before it then assembles to plan the next phase of ‘its’ pandemic.
“To be able to be classified as an endemic disease, the death ratio must not exceed 1 in 1000 people infected, or 0.1%. The current death rate is from 0.2% to 0.25%.”
Thailand registered 23,584 more Covid infections and 66 new Covid-related fatalities during the previous 24 hours. There will also be 40,000+ unofficial results from positive ATK test, if the numbers follow the trends from the past few weeks.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul says that the July 1 plan is “based on the principle that the good health of the people and the national economy must go together”.
Now Thailand is scurrying to ready its vaccination management, medical services for infected people, Covid monitoring and screening measures, prevention and containment of the disease, appropriate travel restrictions and legal measures (whatever that means).
“Despite all these measures, life should be as normal as possible while the economy is recovering.”
“Even if Covid becomes an endemic disease, the population may still be required to wear face masks, avoid group gatherings, wash their hands often, undergo rapid antigen tests and get vaccinated.”
So Thailand’s 2 year journey of restrictions and demonising of the Covid-19 virus will continue, in the Health Minister’s own words, even after the magic July 1 date.
So what, exactly, will change on July 1, 2022?