Thailand is taking measures to ensure the safety of its citizens and all foreigners within its territory in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The latest statements by the Thai government announce temporary visa suspensions for travelers from the most affected areas, intended to lower the risk of further spreading of the disease.
Since its discovery in the Chinese region of Wuhan in late 2019, the new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) has infected over 3.51 million people around the world. Although the vast majority of initial contagions remained in China, cases are quickly rising in several other countries.
Thailand has so far experienced a relatively low number of infections and therefore, decided to temporarily cancel visa exemptions and visas on arrival for passengers from the most affected regions.
On March 29th, authorities announced the temporary closure of all land and sea entry and exit points into Thailand. This measure is effective from March 30th, 2020, until June 30th. Since then, Phuket International Airport has also been closed.
Suspension of the Thai Visa on Arrival
On March 11th, 2020 the Thai authorities removed the possibility to apply for a Thai visa directly at the airport — also known as visa on arrival or Thai VoA. This decision applies to all VoA-eligible foreigners and is expected to be lifted in the future.
As soon as the temporary Thai visa suspension due to the coronavirus outbreak is removed, travelers from any of the following 18 nationalities are expected to be able to benefit from this application process, once again:
- China (including Taiwan)
- Papua New Guinea
- Saudi Arabia
In giving the news, Minister of Interior Anupong Paochinda assured that “Thai embassies everywhere will ensure that no sick people will travel to Thailand.”
Visa Exemptions Temporarily Canceled
Citizens of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, South Korea, and Italy will need to apply for a Thai visa for the time being since their visa-free status has been suspended.
This is a temporary measure and the normal visa policy is expected to return into place once the coronavirus outbreak is under control. It also only applies to the aforementioned nationalities.
Moreover, the government had previously announced that a 14-day mandatory quarantine will be required of foreigners coming from the following areas upon entry into Thailand:
- Hong Kong and Macao SARs
- Mainland China
- South Korea
Disease Infected Zones for COVID-19
The Royal Thai Government Gazette announced on March 5th, that the following territories outside the Kingdom of Thailand are considered Disease Infected Zones (DIZ) for COVID-19:
- South Korea
- China (including Hong Kong and Macau)
On March 13th, the Airports of Thailand (AOT) launched an application to enable travelers arriving from any of the countries mentioned above to submit the required T8 form.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) has made the T8 form a mandatory entry requirement for all passengers arriving from DIZ. The T8 form can be completed on paper, or by downloading the AOT application on a smartphone.
The purpose of the T8 form for Thailand is to allow Thail health officials to contact travelers in case of an emergency.
In order to achieve this, passengers arriving in Thailand from DIZ must submit the following information in their T8 form:
- Passport number
- Mobile phone number
- Valid e-mail address
The data will be stored for 14 days from the traveler’s arrival date in Thailand. Passengers seated in close vicinity to others who have tested positive for COVID-19 may be notified via the contact information submitted in their T8 form.
Can I Travel to Thailand with the New Restrictions?
Phuket International Airport remains closed. Furthermore, a ban on all incoming commercial flights to Thailand has been extended until 30 June.
Similarly, all of Thailand’s land borders and sea entry points remain temporarily closed in efforts to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak.
How to minimize contagion while in Thailand
The same precautions taken at home should be respected while traveling to and across Thailand. Public health experts around the world advise the following :
- Wash hands frequently with warm water and soap (about 20 seconds) and when not possible, use a sanitizer gel
- Use a tissue when coughing or sneezing and dispose of it immediately, then wash hands
- Wear a face mask at all times while in the airport to avoid being denied entry
- Avoid touching the face if hands haven’t been washed recently
- Avoid close contact with people who are not well
The dedicated hotline of the Thai Department of Disease Control is 1422 and should be used by anyone who starts experiencing symptoms. A self-reporting online tool (available in Thai, English, and Chinese) has also been launched.
The normal health recommendations for Thailand (including food and water safety and protecting oneself from insect bites) still apply.
How Has Coronavirus Affected Thailand?
The coronavirus has reached over 120 countries worldwide. That is why the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared the COVID-19 disease a pandemic.
Fortunately, Thailand remains one of the least affected areas. There have been 2,987 confirmed cases so far, of which 2,740 made a full recovery.
Like anywhere else in the world, the disease has affected the Thai tourist industry. Arrivals dropped by 40% in February.
Is Thailand prepared against the coronavirus?
The WHO Thailand Situation Report published on March 5 states that the country:
“Has strong capacities for case detection, risk assessment, case investigation, laboratory diagnosis, clinical management, infection prevention and control, and risk communication”.
John Hopkins University ranked Thailand second in having a robust health system able to assist the sick as well as protecting medical personnel. Concerning the ability to prevent the emergence or release of pathogens, the country was ranked third.
According to the study, Thailand is Asia’s most prepared nation when it comes to dealing with an epidemic.
This means that Thailand is a low-risk area with adequate infrastructures and that the local authorities are doing everything in their power to protect Thai citizens and foreigners alike.