The movement of people within Thailand will be a major problem for the government and its Covid measures as the country slowly opens up, a source in the health ministry told Thai Enquirer on Friday.
Thailand has opened its doors to vaccinated tourists since November 1 in a bid to kickstart the economy and save the troubled hospitality sector.
And even though no incoming tourist has tested positive for Covid-19 year, the major hurdle will be the internal movement taking place inside the country to support the country’s reopening.
“It is true that 70 per cent of Bangkok has at least one shot of the vaccine but that is not true for the rest of the country,” said a senior official at the Ministry of Public health on condition of anonymity.
“You have areas inside the country that haven’t even reached 50 per cent in terms of having a first shot,” the source told Thai Enquirer by phone. “And there are internal migrants who went back home after their jobs were lost during the pandemic.”
“Once things open up again, these workers will return to the capital and other urban areas to find work and that could become a major source of the outbreak.”
On Friday, Thailand saw 8,148 new cases and 80 deaths. According to the source at the ministry, that number is likely to increase unless the government strictly enforces the “sandbox zones” and steps up its vaccination program.
“I am not worried at all about the incoming tourists. They are vaccinated, they will be okay. What worries me is that these sandbox zones were suppose to be exclusive but so far there has been free travel throughout the country,” the source said.
“That means the disease is going to spread and fast unless we step up vaccination and strictly quarantine those province whose vaccination rates have lagged behind.”