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How will life in Thailand change when the COVID state of emergency ends this month?

Thailand will officially lift its COVID-19 emergency decree at the end of this month, paving the way for millions of people to return to normal life. Let’s check out all the changes this move will bring.

The Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), which was set up in the wake of the pandemic’s arrival in early 2020, announced last week that the state of emergency will finally be lifted from September 30 because the virus crisis is starting to subside.

This move is in line with the Public Health Ministry’s decision to downgrade COVID-19 from a dangerous communicable disease to a monitored communicable disease from October 1. The virus has infected nearly 620 million people worldwide leading to 6.54 million deaths.

How will the move affect you?

The COVID downgrade and lifting of the emergency decree will bring a further and significant easing of restrictions.

For instance, travelers will be able to enter Thailand without having to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.

People in Thailand, meanwhile, will likely no longer need to self-isolate if they test positive for COVID-19 and have mild or no symptoms.

Controls that apply to big events or large gatherings look set to disappear too. This means locals can expect to enjoy more festivals, concerts, and events from next month onwards.

The National Communicable Disease Committee has ruled that “DMHT” – distancing, mask-wearing, handwashing, and testing – rules are enough to control the spread of COVID-19.

Offices and schools, for example, may insist on COVID-free settings by requiring students or staff who develop respiratory problems to take an RT-PCR test. Those who test positive could be ordered to self-isolate, but only if their symptoms are serious. Otherwise, they may still attend work or class with a mask on.

CCSA dissolution

CCSA, which was established in March 2020, will be disbanded at the end of this month. At the peak of the virus crisis, CCSA served as a guide by offering useful advice and updates at its daily press conferences.

Reassurances and clarifications provided by the agency played a vital role in Thailand’s relatively successful control of the highly contagious disease, though the CCSA was also targeted with criticism sometimes.

“Please continue taking care of your health so we can all enjoy normality,” CCSA spokesman Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin said at the agency’s final press conference on September 23.

The government, meanwhile, has assured the public that CCSA’s dissolution will not disrupt the country’s COVID-control operations.

“The Cabinet will take the job over from CCSA during the transition to ensure operations are integrated among relevant ministries,” CCSA advisor Dr Udom Kachintorn said. “There will be no vacuum.”

COVID-19 will be officially declared a “monitored communicable disease” once Parliament approves the amendment to the Communicable Disease Bill.

COVID-19 is not yet endemic

The government had been hoping to declare COVID-19 endemic within this year. However, indications are that authorities believe the best they can do is lift the disease-related emergency decree.

“It cannot be considered endemic yet,” Udom said. “Though the number of cases has dropped somewhat, it is still too high to talk about endemic status.”

Udom said that about 14,000 people per day register positive ATK tests. The actual number of daily cases is almost certainly many times higher, given that many people choose to keep their positive tests private and administer self-treatment. After dealing with the crisis for two years now, most healthy people in Thailand have realized that symptoms can usually be treated with basic medicines.

“We no longer consider COVID-19 a dangerous communicable disease because most patients do not develop severe symptoms,” Udom said. “But given that the rate of fatality is still 0.1 percent, we must realize that COVID-19 is not the same as a common cold.” Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service

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