BANGKOK — Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Thursday said travelers, whether they are Thais or foreigners, must present their health certificates before boarding planes to Thailand, regardless of their flight origins.
In an escalation of an already confusing guideline, which initially required arrivals from four high-risk countries to have medical certificates, PM Prayut said after a meeting with health officials today that the measure is now applied to travelers from all countries – a policy slammed as impractical by many.
“We are preventing the virus from entering into the country. That’s why we require everyone entering into Thailand to present their health certificates and insurance policies,” Prayut said. “This measure had been applied to travelers from four countries and two territories, but we now extended it to every country.”
He did not specify when or how the measure will be implemented. Physicians in many countries – including Thailand – generally do not provide coronavirus tests to those who do not show symptoms associated with the virus.
Asked whether the new measure would effectively close Thai borders, Prayut responded with temper and said he did not imply it that way.
“Why do I have to translate my words into Thai again?,” Prayut told reporters. “I just mentioned that foreigners entering into Thailand must present their health certificates.”
But Prayut’s remark contradicts with disease control department director Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai, who said only travelers from countries with confirmed infections would have to present their certificates.
“Everyone who travels from the countries with ongoing local transmission or the countries with infection cases reported by the World Health Organization must present their health certificates,” Suwannachai said.
He continued, “Health insurance policies which have a minimum medical coverage of 100,000 U.S. dollars are also needed before buying plane tickets. They will also be subjected to screenings upon their departure and arrival to Thailand. This is the Cabinet’s decision and we are enforcing every measure mentioned.”
Prayut’s statement also contradicts a mandate published by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand less than 24 hours earlier, which required all air travelers from 11 countries to present their health certificates, as well as health insurance policies in case of foreign nationals, upon boarding their flights.
The announcement was later refuted as false by transport minister Saksayam, while the aviation authority’s director general Chula Sukmanop said he was not aware of the order, despite his signature in the document.