Thailand gears up vaccination roll-out ahead of planned reopening

Hua Hin Beach. File photo

BANGKOK, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) — Thailand is speeding up vaccination roll-out as the Southeast Asian country plans to reopen for vaccinated visitors from November to revive the pandemic-battered economy.

On Monday, the country administered nearly 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines as it prepares to welcome back fully vaccinated international visitors from the beginning of next month, according to the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

As of Monday, Thailand has administered more than 66 million doses of vaccines, with about 37 percent of its total population having been fully vaccinated, according to the CCSA.

However, the figures of full vaccination coverage are much higher in key tourist destinations, led by Phuket with 76.7 percent and Bangkok with 69.7 percent, according to the COVID-19 task force.

Thailand aims to inoculate about 70 percent of its nearly 70 million population by the end of this year.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announced last week that the country planned to allow fully vaccinated visitors from “low risk” countries and regions to enter Thailand without quarantine from next month.

The low-risk and quarantine-free list would initially include at least 10 countries and regions, such as Britain, Singapore, Germany, China and the United States, Prayut said during a televised address on Oct. 11.

According to the CCSA, full details of the reopening plan will be available within this week.

On Tuesday, Thailand reported 9,122 new COVID-19 cases and 71 additional deaths. Of the new cases, 1,646 were found in Bangkok and its five neighboring provinces, according to the CCSA.

The total number of infections has risen to more than 1.8 million in the country, with fatalities reaching 18,407.

Thailand is beefing up efforts to revive its economy as the tourism sector, the main growth engine that contributed roughly 20 percent of the country’s GDP before COVID-19, has been hit hard by the pandemic.