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Medical tourists can return, but under strict control

Jul 31. 2020
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By The Nation

Now that restrictions on medical tourists has been lifted, the Public Health Ministry reckons around Bt18 billion can be earned in three months provided strict controls are put in place, such as ensuring a 14-day quarantine in hospital and no more than three people accompanying the patient.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) recently relaxed measures allowing four groups of foreigners to return to Thailand, including patients returning for a medical follow-up or those who have joined the government’s Medical and Wellness programme.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health has come up with guidelines for alternative hospital quarantine.

Last year, foreign patients spent Bt15,000 per session on anti-ageing and rehabilitation, Bt140,000 on cardiovascular care, Bt300,000 on treatment of bones, joints, ligaments and muscles, Bt29,000 on dentistry, almost Bt500,000 on infertility treatments, Bt700,000 on cancer treatments, more than Bt2 million on organ transplants, over Bt26,000 on health examination, up to Bt50,000 on other conditions, Bt550,000 on heart surgery and Bt350,000 on gastric balloon surgery.

This year it is expected that foreign and Thai expat patients are expected to hold up to 160,000 treatment sessions within three months and bring the country up to Bt18 billion in revenue. Patients are expected to come from Gulf countries, neighbouring Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, as well as China, Bangladesh, Maldives, Bhutan, Australia, New Zealand and India.

Patients wishing to come to Thailand for treatment must first test negative to Covid-19, and then quarantined in hospital for 14 days along with the people accompanying them. They will also be tested for Covid-19 while under quarantine. Each patient is only allowed to bring along three relatives and friends, who will only be allowed to travel around Thailand after quarantine.

Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai, chief of the Disease Control Department, said foreigners requiring immediate medical treatment will be allowed into the country at all times.

“Private hospitals are required to provide names of patients and coordinate with the Foreign Ministry,” he said.

Dr Akom Pradittasuwan, director of the Department of Health Service Support, said the agency has verified 98 hospitals and 26 clinics as alternative hospital quarantine sites, and they will be open to both Thais and foreigners.

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