ATK Entry for International Visitors Might Be Delayed Due to Omicron

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Deputy Public Health Minister, Sathit Pitutecha revealed that authorities are considering whether to delay the plan to allow international travelers to take an antigen test (ATK) instead of an RT-PCR test to enter the country due to the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Originally, the ATK entry was due to start on December 16 for travelers from 63 countries designated by the government under the test-and-go scheme.

Meanwhile, today, travelers must take an RT-PCR test upon arrival, and they must quarantine at a hotel for one night until a negative result comes back.

Deputy Minister Sathit added that RT-PCR tests are more accurate than ATK tests, which will be important to help prevent an Omicron outbreak in Thailand. 

Even though the new variant has not yet been detected in Thailand, Mr. Sathit said he assigned the Department of Medical Science (DMS) to find more effective methods to detect the Omicron variant.

DMS Director-General Supakit Sirilak said the RT-PCR method is still effective in detecting the Omicron strain.

According to Apisamai Srirangson, assistant spokesperson of the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration, the decision to replace RT-PCR tests with antigen tests might change, depending on the Covid-19 situation.

She said from December 1, foreign travelers from eight countries in southern Africa, namely Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, will be prohibited from entering Thailand.

In addition to African nations, the Omicron variant has been found in Australia, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, Belgium, the Czech Republic, and Denmark.

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