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Most Thais against opening country to foreigners, says poll

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A student has his temperature checked at the entrance of a school in Bangkok, Thailand, July 1, 2020. (Xinhua/Rachen Sageamsak)

BANGKOK (Bangkok Post) – A majority of people are still opposed to opening the country to foreigners who are not infected with COVID-19, reasoning that the global coronavirus situation is still very serious, according to a survey carried out by the National Institute of Development Administration, or Nida Poll.

The poll was conducted on July 6-8 on 1,251 people aged 18 and over of various levels of education and occupations throughout the country.

A proposed “medical and wellness” programme would open the country to foreigners who test negative for COVID-19 to receive medical treatment. They would be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine before being allowed to return to their home countries.

A majority – 55.32 percent – disagreed with the programme. Of them, 41.41 precent strongly disagreed with it, saying those admitted could be carriers and cause a second wave of the pandemic, while Thailand already has many infections imported by Thai returnees from abroad. Another 13.91 percent said they disagreed because the situation does not yet warrant the entry of foreigners, even if they have health certificates.

On the other side, 23.10 percent agreed, saying this would enhance the repuation of Thai medical facilities and spur the economy; and 21.58 percent moderately agreed, reasoning that measures taken by Thailand had proved effective against the COVID-19 spread.

A second proposed programme would allow those foreigners admitted for medical treatment to travel around Thailand after undergoing a 14-day quarantine. Asked about this second programme, 37.89 percent were totally against it and wanted the virus to be 100 percent eradicated first because they had no confidence in the 14-day quarantine, while 14.55 percent disagreed with it, but less strongly, for fear of a second wave of the pandemic since COVID-19 was mostly imported by foreigners.

On the other side, 24.14 percent strongly supported the programme, saying it would help rehabilitate tourism and stimulate the economy, while another 23.26 percent said they somewhat agreed with it for showing confidence in Thai medical services.

The rest, 0.16 percent, had no comment or were not interested.

Asked about the travel bubble programme that would allow foreigners from countries free of COVID-19 to visit the country, a majority – 54.36 percent – agreed with it. Of that number, 25.90 percent strongly agreed, saying it would help spur the economy and revitalise the airline industry, while another 28.46 percent were in moderate agreement for the same reason.

On the other side, 29.65 percent strongly opposed the programme, and a further 14.95 percent were in moderate disagreement for fear of a second wave of the pandemic.

The rest, 10.4 percent, had no comment or were not interested.

Asked whether they were confident the government would be able to contain the COVID-19 spread if foreigners were allowed into the country under these programmes, 59.63 percent were not confident while 39.33 percent were. The remaining 1.04 percent had no comment or were not interested.

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