You may have heard, or read, the good news last week. Thailand dropped many of the formalities for visiting as a tourist again, which at one point required an arguably insane 31 steps before you could even set foot on a plane.
You can now enter Thailand ‘visa free’ from over 50 countries, but still need a negative covid-19 test, fit to fly certificate and a few other itmes. But even with the newfound “ease”, there’s still 14 days of quarantine in an ‘ASQ’ hotel facility, which means 14 days of prepaid hotel as part of the experience, where you’re stuck in a room.
With that huge barrier in place, many people are planning current and future trips to destinations without two weeks in expensive isolation to start things off in style. In an effort to make travel to the country more attractive in 2021, Thailand is looking into the potentially shortening quarantine from 14 to 10 days, or less, based on live studies.
Thailand’s Live Testing Study
Thailand has added a third covid-19 test to its alternative state quarantine ‘ASQ’ setup, whereby all travelers will receive a test on arrival days 0-1, day 9/10 and now also day 13/14. The idea of the third test is to confirm the efficacy, or statistical probability that someone could test positive after 10 days.
With many outside visitors currently in these ASQ facilities, Thailand is able to use real world data and travels to track and monitor the results, rather than simple modeling.
Based on results from the real world study, Thailand would then potentially seek to drop quarantine from 14 down to 10 days on December 31st, 2020. It’s still a long time to give up on a trip, but significantly better than 14, and could always be reduced again.
The UK recently made similar moves going from 14 days to a 10 day quarantine, with an additional option to “test out” after five days. A UK business exemption was also created or shorter trips.
Covid-19 incubation periods are a topic of great study, and while cases have taken over 7 days to test positive, more recent studies conclude most cases test positive within 72-96 hours of incubation. Put simply, if you test negative on Day 1, and then once again on day 4, it’s unlikely, but far from impossible to be positive thereafter.
Countries Still Figuring It Out
Countries around the world are figuring out how to deal with covid-19 regulations, particularly as many grapple with the worst outbreaks at the very same time vaccines are reaching real people. Iceland and Hungary are going with lo-fi ‘immunity passports’ which allow anyone who can prove they’ve had and recovered from covid-19 may enter.
Most of Asia-Pacific, including Singapore,New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong, has required 14 days of quarantine in a monitored facility. Travel bubbles between places of equally low risk have been discussed, but so far every bubble has burst, including most recently plans between Hong Kong and Singapore.
If scientific consensus builds around 10 days of quarantine being more than enough, or that no quarantine with multiple rapid test based solutions works, it’s all a step forward in getting the world moving again. As vaccines help to increase safety for the most at risk, it only helps.
We’ll wait and see what Thailand decides after the trial ends on December 31st. Let’s hope it’s a health and happy new year for all. Ideally, one with unrestricted travel, at some point.