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Thailand drops pre-arrival COVID test for foreign visitors

March 18, 2022 GMT

BANGKOK (AP) — Visitors vaccinated for COVID-19 will no longer need a test before traveling to Thailand starting April 1, health officials said Friday.

Visitors will still need to take a RT-PCR test upon arrival and a self-administered rapid antigen test on the fifth day in the country, said Taweesin Visanuyothin, a spokesperson for the government’s Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration.

Thailand is keen to restore its lucrative tourism sector, which took a nosedive when most arrivals from overseas dried up since April 2020.

Neighboring Cambodia, whose tourism industry was similarly battered, announced Thursday that fully vaccinated passengers are no longer required to have a RT-PCR test before arrival. It also removed the need for a rapid antigen test upon arrival.

Thai health authorities are currently coping with record numbers of daily COVID-19 cases and related deaths this year.

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There were more than 50,000 new cases reported Friday, slightly more than half confirmed by RT-PCR tests, and the remainder with rapid antigen tests. There were also 80 new deaths.

Since the pandemic started in 2020, Thailand has had a total of around 3.3 million confirmed cases and 24,075 deaths.

The health authorities are concerned about the potential for the spread of the virus next month during the Songkran festival, a raucous holiday that celebrates the Thai New Year.

They have prohibited the traditional splashing of water in the streets and other public areas, and banned the selling and consumption of alcohol at public celebrations.

A major threat from the holiday is mass travel from the cities to home villages in rural provinces. The practice was a huge problem last year, when most Thais had not yet been vaccinated.

Thailand has administered 126 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. At least 54.6 million people, more than 78% of the population, have been vaccinated with at least one jab. Fifty million people have received at least two jabs, and 22 million received booster doses.