FRIDAY, March 01, 2024

CCSA to decide on ending RT-PCR testing of foreign arrivals after Songkran

CCSA to decide on ending RT-PCR testing of foreign arrivals after Songkran

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Friday postponed its decision on stopping RT-PCR tests on foreign arrivals until after the long Songkran holidays.

CCSA spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin said the CCSA meeting resolved that it would wait to see the infection ratio after the Songkran holidays before deciding on whether to approve the proposal of the Public Health Ministry to end the mandatory RT-PCR test.

The CCSA convened its meeting on Friday to mainly consider the proposal of the Public Health Ministry, which echoed the calls of tourism and hospitality operators for ending RT-PCR tests on foreign arrivals to further boost tourism.

“The CCSA agrees with the proposal in principle, but it has not approved it yet,” Taweesilp said.

“The CCSA will first wait to see the results of the Covid prevention measures during the Songkran holidays. We will wait to see whether Thais will cooperate with the measures to minimise the new infections or not.”

The Centre for Tourism and Sports Emergency Administration also proposed that the CCSA reduce the documents required for seeking entry approval via the Thailand Pass website and to reduce the insurance coverage to US$20,000.

“All the proposals have not been approved, but the CCSA just agreed with them in principle,” Taweesilp emphasised, after Deputy Public Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha came out of the meeting room and told reporters that the RT-PCR proposal had been approved.

Sathit said the proposal would make it more convenient for foreign tourists to visit Thailand. He said the RT-PCR test would be irrelevant now that infections in the country have come to a manageable level and local people also used rapid antigen test kits (ATKs) to test themselves.

Regarding self-testing by Thais using ATKs, Taweesilp said the CCSA was informed of the progress of the policy initiated by the National Health Security Office (NHSO).

He said the NHSO has distributed 22.8 million kits to public health offices around the country for people in risk groups to test themselves. So far, 3.1 million kits have been used on 1.2 million people and 2.3 per cent of them had tested positive.

The CCSA spokesman said the ATKs on average cost THB55 per kit. So far, the NHSO has received a THB170 million budget for buying the kits.

He said the meeting was informed that Siriraj Hospital is now working with two private firms to make ATKs costing about THB40 per kit and they can make about 200,000 kits a month.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha then suggested that the Government Pharmaceutical Organization should help the programme so that one million ATKs could be produced per month, the spokesman added.