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Surprise! (Not): Thailand Won’t Declare Covid-19 Endemic July 1

Anutin begrudgingly admits disease controls on tourists, nightlife will have to be eased

The Public Health Ministry dropped plans to declare Covid-19 an endemic disease’ on July 1 after admitting Thailand never had a chance of meeting the international standards.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul acknowledged the obvious on Monday, saying caseloads, deaths and hospitalization from the coronavirus remain too high for it to be an endemic disease, and will continue to be in July.

Anutin said that, for now, bureaucrats would prepare the endemic-disease declaration and keep it in their back pocket until they need it.

Thailand reported 29,826 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, including 12,945 found through antigen tests, and 129 deaths, a 0.3% mortality rate. Case numbers remain low to do a lag in reporting by provincial health offices closed for Songkran.

Ministry officials and consulting doctors repeatedly have predicted that the country will surge a huge surge in daily cases in the next two weeks, with up to 100,000 cases reported a day.

Anutin backed off that prediction on Monday, however, saying he didn’t see new Covid-19 cases “soaring”, adding that the country is prepared nonetheless with ample stocks of favipiravir antiviral drug that Thai doctors have twice said in the past month is ineffective against Covid-19.

The blowhard minister who would like nothing better than see alcohol banned and bars remain closed forever grudgingly admitted that Thailand’s over-the-top disease-control measures would have to be eased further to support the economy.

While not official, the pre-Songkran proposal by the Tourism and Sports Ministry to end on-arrival RT-PCR tests for tourists almost certainly will be approved on Friday. But he was noncommittal on the further proposal to do away with the entire Thailand Pass system and the “Test & Go” and “sandbox” tourist-entry schemes.

Anutin also gave a glimmer of home to Thailand’s nightlife industry, saying that if the virus doesn’t explode in the next two weeks, domestic controls would be relaxed “to restore business and activities at their pre-Covid levels as soon as possible”.