Opinion poll shows the public still supports strict public health regulation and screening of incoming foreign tourists. It comes as the Ministry of Public Health on Sunday reported the first death, attributed to the Omicron strain of the COVID-19 virus, of an 86 year old Alzheimer’s patient in Songkhla.
As the Thai government considers easing restrictions given the stabilising COVID-19 situation in the kingdom, Government House in recent days has released the results of an opinion poll which shows a high level of public satisfaction with the handling of the COVID-19 crisis by public officials. The survey which was conducted in December, before Christmas, came before positive developments over the last 10 days with lower case numbers. It showed that 68.95% of people were in favour of more rigorous screening of incoming foreign tourists. The result also showed that over 25% of Thais would support mandatory vaccine legislation while 18.87% would support restricting public health access to the unvaccinated.
A public opinion poll carried out by the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) for the government has revealed a high level of satisfaction among the population with its approach to handling the COVID-19 virus situation according to Government House spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana this week.
It comes as Japan has added Thailand to its list of countries where quarantine will be essential for visitors even though the East Asian country still imposes a ban on all incoming tourism.
Thailand’s Omicron wave sees first death reported on Sunday from the southern province of Songkhla
This has been linked to the Omicron outbreak of COVID-19 with the kingdom recording slightly lower numbers of infection cases over the last week and what public health officials describe as a stabilising situation despite the death of an elderly woman reported on Sunday in Songkhla.
The 86 year old was bedridden and suffered from Alzheimer’s according to a Ministry of Public Health spokesperson while confirming the death to news agency Reuters.
Reports over the last 10 days have led senior government figures to express a hope that the COVID-19 virus may become endemic in Thailand sometime this year.
This comes as tourism industry leaders are calling on the government to reactivate the more flexible and successful ‘Test and Go’ entry regime as numbers of foreign tourists in the kingdom begin to drop off precipitously because of the suspension of the programme from December 22nd last.
40.03% satisfied with the government’s approach to management and regulation of the emergency
The results of the poll which was conducted some weeks ago between December 20th and December 23rd last year showed that 40.03% were satisfied with the government’s approach when it comes to managing the ongoing situation and the imposition of new public health controls.
A higher figure of 66.97% was satisfied with the availability of effective vaccines to the population at this time.
A lower figure of 46.37% said they were happy with the supply of medicines being made available by the government.
25.42% support mandatory vaccination laws
The survey showed a significant 25.42% of Thai people were in favour of legislating for vaccine mandates among the population if this was to be proposed by the government while 18.87% even favoured restricted access to public health services to people who are not vaccinated.
The survey showed a very strong bias among the population for more intensive screening of incoming foreigners due to the raised threat presented some weeks ago by the Omicron strain of COVID-19 with 68.95% supporting a more rigorous approach.
A strong 68.95% support of rigorous screening of incoming visitors to the kingdom due to the virus
20.24 % even advocated reimposing controls on domestic travel while 38.81% wanted to see stiffer penalties for those smuggling in illegal workers into the kingdom which is a key vulnerability in efforts to defeat the spread of COVID-19.
Mr Thanakorn reported that 94.67 % of the population in Thailand still wore masks in public places while an impressive 76.79% washed their hands frequently either with soap or an alcohol-based cleanser.
He said the government was committed to vigorously pursuing the country’s ongoing vaccination programme while also making renewed efforts to make more treatments for the disease available in hospitals.
Japan already closed to tourists and passengers
In relation to the news from Japan, Thailand is among five countries added to the quarantine list from Monday 16th January including Mexico, the Maldives, Nepal and India.
At the moment, only diplomats, permanent residents of Japan and those on humanitarian missions may enter the country, in any event, with a quarantine period consisting of three days at a government hosted venue and a further 10 days in isolation whether at home or at another agreed location for passengers from listed countries including Thailand.
Carla Boonkong is a magazine writer who writes extensively about woman's issues in Thailand. One of her key subjects is the story of Thailand's growing influence in the world and the role played by Thai women in the process. She is now a staff writer with Thai Examiner.com in Bangkok. Son Nguyen is an international writer and news commentator specialising in Thai news and current affairs. He commenced working with the Thai Examiner News Desk in May 2018.
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