Doctors sound alarm over plan to reopen borders by October

Doctors on Thursday slammed the government’s plan to reopen Thailand within the next 120 days.

“To reopen while knowing that people inside the country have yet to comprehensively receive good vaccines is like climbing a mountain at night without a light,” Dr Thira Woratanarat, Chulalongkorn University’s professor of medicine, wrote on his social media page on Thursday.

According to the Health Ministry’s Immunization Center, 4.95 million people have received their first dose as of June 15. Thailand’s population is 69 million.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha said on Wednesday evening that the government’s plan to vaccinate 50 million people by October, when the plan reopening is supposed to take place.

Dr Thira also said the country should have permanent Covid testing stations in every province to provide free testing for Thais and foreigners before the reopening.

“Countries that have successfully reopened must be able to suppress the virus with highly effective testing capability, highly effective vaccines, and a vaccinated majority,” he added.

Dr Nitipat Jiarakul from the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, posted on his social media page on Thursday that he was worried about a fourth wave because the country has yet to control the outbreak within the illegal migrant group.

At the same time, there is also an outbreak of the Delta variant which could spread further.

The Medical Sciences Department said on Wednesday that the Delta variant could become the dominant variant in Thailand over the next two to three months.

So far, 496 cases of Delta variant were found in 20 provinces since the country started to test for it at the beginning of June. Of that, 404 were found in Bangkok alone.

“If we do not stop the outbreak within the illegal migrant group now then I am afraid that a fourth wave is inevitable,” he said.

“The measure to reopen the country in 120 days by hoping that vaccines will take care of all the problems gives me a chill down the spine,” he added.

Dr Chalermchai Boonyaleepun, deputy chairman of the Senate’s public health committee, posted on his social media page on Thursday that Myanmar has already discovered Alpha, Delta and Kappa variants and cases with these variants could find their way into Thailand via illegal entries.

Myanmar’s Ministry of Health said on Wednesday that the country has so far found two cases of Alpha variant, five case of Delta variant and four cases of Kappa variant since they started to test for them on June 3.

“If new variants find their way into Thailand, the country will be in great trouble as we have yet to reach herd immunity,” he said. “That could impact the plan to reopen the country in the next 120 days.”


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