Thailand Approves Plan to Replace PCR Tests with Antigen Testing

Vaccinated tourists who want to enter Thailand from 63 authorized countries and avoid the mandatory 14-day quarantine must undergo antigen testing instead of RT-PCR testing before traveling.

The National Committee on Communicable Diseases (NCDC) agreed to replace RT-PCR testing with antigen tests yesterday. According to Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, the plan is in line with the country’s second reopening phase on December 1.

The change requires visitors under the “test and go” scheme to have vaccination certificates and RT-PCR certificates at least 72 hours before traveling. Later, upon arrival, they must undergo antigen tests from time to time, Mr. Anutin explained.

Currently, arrivals under the “test and go” scheme must only spend a single night in a Safety and Health Administration Plus certified hotel while awaiting the RT-PCR test result instead of being required to comply with a strict two-week-long quarantine period.

Mr. Anutin said the NCDC had also approved a proposal to exempt a 50-baht payment for a vaccination certificate for those traveling from December 1 to 31. Also, the Department of Medical Services signed an agreement to buy 50,000 courses equivalent to 2 million pills of molnupiravir, the first oral medication to treat Covid-19 patients.

Yesterday, the Disease Control Department (DDC) also signed an agreement to acquire another 30 million Pfizer vaccine doses that health officials will administer as third or booster doses, he added.

Meanwhile, DDC director-general Opas Karnkawinpong said Thailand’s second reopening phase would be submitted today for approval by the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

The second reopening phase, which comes after the case toll among foreign visitors under the “test and go” scheme was only 0.08%, will allow tourists to enter the country by boat, land and plane. However, overland entry will be limited to safe border passes under strict health checks, Dr. Opas stated.

Answering questions about whether the government would reduce the number of eligible countries and territories amid a new Covid-19 wave hitting Europe, Dr. Opas said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would consider the matter.