Thailand's Covid cases jump to record as easier visa rules loom

[BANGKOK] Thailand reported a record number of new Covid infections on Thursday (Mar 31), a day before easier entry rules for foreign tourists are set to take effect.

The Health Ministry confirmed 27,560 new cases and 85 Covid deaths in the past 24 hours. The infections included 61 imported cases, the ministry said on its website.

Starting Friday, foreign travellers will no longer be required to carry a pre-travel Covid-free certificate as the tourism-reliant South-east Asian nation seeks to draw more holidaymakers to help it sustain a nascent economic recovery.

Overseas visitors will still be required to undergo an RT-PCR test on arrival and a self-administered antigen test on day 5. The flare-up in cases comes ahead of the Songkran festival, the Thai new year celebrations, from Apr 13 with authorities cautioning against large gatherings and traditional splashing of waters on revellers to prevent more people getting infected.

The country has prepared a road-map to classify the pandemic as endemic in the coming months, but the progress toward it would be contingent on first controlling the current outbreak, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha has said. BLOOMBERG

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