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Thailand plans to replace mandatory RT-PCR test with ART

BANGKOK (BERNAMA) – Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Ministry will propose to the government’s COVID-19 task force to scrap the mandatory RT-PCR test for international arrivals and replace it with self-administered antigen rapid test (ART) starting May.

In a bid to boost its tourism industry, Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said fully vaccinated travellers would no longer be required to stay in a pre-booked hotel and undergo mandatory RT-PCR test upon arrival.

“We expect the move to be approved and implemented from May 1, provided that there is no surge in new COVID-19 infections and deaths during and after Songkran festival (April 13 to 15),” he was quoted saying by The Nation.

At present, international travellers entering the kingdom need to apply online for the ‘Thailand Pass’ at least seven days before travel.

Under the quarantine-free ‘Test & Go’ programme, travellers also need to book a designated hotel in advance, as well as perform an RT-PCR test on the first day of arrival and an ATK test on the fifth day. Travellers will have to purchase medical insurance with a minimum coverage of USD20,000.

Beginning on April 1, international travellers who are fully vaccinated do not need to undergo the COVID-19 test 72 hours before travelling to Thailand.

Last week, Phiphat said the ministry would propose easing travel restrictions including scrapping the ‘Test & Go’ and ‘Thailand Pass’ registration by June 1 if there is no surge in infections or fatalities during Songkran festival.

“The move will restore normal travel to Thailand “just like in 2019” before COVID-19 triggered global travel bans,” he said.

In 2019, Thailand recorded almost 40 million visitors, including 4.1 million visitors from Malaysia. The number of tourist arrivals dived to 6.7 million in 2020.

The National Economic and Social Development Council on Monday projected 5.5 million tourists this year.

Thailand recorded 21,678 new COVID-19 cases and 78 fatalities in the last 24 hours, bringing the total infections in the kingdom to 1,351,963 and 24,958 deaths, to date.