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COVID-19 - Situation and response in Thailand

COVID-19 - Situation and response in Thailand

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Old Feb 9, 21, 6:42 pm
  #1036  
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Last seven months...makes sense based on past figures published by different governmental agencies.

According to data released earlier this week by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Deputy Permanent Secretary, Chutintorn Sam Gongsakdi, just 78,328 foreigners with Certificates of Entry (COE) have entered Thailand between 9 July 2020 and 6 February 2021.

Of those, 1,157 were Elite Card holders & 2,457 were Special Tourist Visa holders.

source: Chutintorn Sam Gongsakdi @chutintorn_Sam



Not all of the 78,238 were tourists of course. All of these were foreigners.

Based on previous DCA figures, the total number of tourists is easily below 15,000.

Elite qualify as "tourist" according to the DCA, as do STV, TR60 and TVE.

Last edited by transpac; Feb 9, 21 at 6:47 pm
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Old Feb 10, 21, 12:31 am
  #1037  
 
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7000 positive cases among 100'000 tested factory workers in Samut Sakohon province in addition to the couple of hundreds every day...
7,000 Covid-19 cases at Samut Sakhon factories (bangkokpost.com)
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Old Feb 10, 21, 12:33 am
  #1038  
 
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Bangkok quarantine report, day 6

As noted in my previous post (#1020), my alternative state quarantine (ASQ) hotel is the Hyatt Place Bangkok Sukhumvit. As those of you who have looked into ASQ options already know, there is a wide range of choices. A few are quite inexpensive -- perhaps $70 or $80 per night for the complete room/meals/transport/tests/etc package -- but look pretty dismal. And then there are a few high-end hotels whose basic rooms start at $300 per night for the ASQ package and that offer suites or villas at $500 or more. (All these prices are quoted online in Baht for the whole 15 nights; I have converted them into the per-night US$ charge at a rate of 30 Baht per dollar. Also, please note that these prices are "net": that is, all taxes and service charges are already included.)

Among all these choices were two at which I had stayed in the past and found reasonably pleasant: the Westin Grande Sukhumvit and the Hyatt Place. Neither of these looked like the most luxurious or comfortable option, and neither was the least expensive, but they were both solidly in the southeast quadrant of my mostly-intuitive quality/price chart. Also, I had initially hoped that my loyalty program status (Hyatt Globalist and Marriott Titanium) might get me some benefits at whichever hotel I chose; but I inquired about this to both hotels and was told that while the nights and points will count toward qualifying status, no other benefits -- room upgrades, free breakfast, lounge access, free drinks or evening snacks, etc. -- would apply to an ASQ stay. Ultimately I chose the Hyatt Place over the Westin because (1) I prefer the rooms at the Hyatt Place, at least for an extended stay -- the floor-to-ceiling windows provide lots of light and an illusion of lots of space; (2) the price is lower, starting at about $87 per night net (39K Baht for the package) vs the Westin at $133 net (60K Baht for the package); and (3) Hyatt's "Bonus Journeys" promotion, active until February 28, offers two qualifying nights for each night actually stayed.

The third criterion above, about hotel loyalty program qualifying status, is worth elaborating, particularly for the benefit of those to whom both Hyatt and Marriott loyalty program status is important and/or interesting. If, like me, you have already requalified for Globalist through the 2022 program year ending February 2023 -- and even if you will have no problem reaching the 60-night annual threshold that gets you various additional benefits -- the 30 qualifying nights you will get for a 15-night ASQ package at the Hyatt Place are still worth having: they will get you three suite upgrades of up to one week each, which you can use at some of the very nicest Hyatts in the world once leisure travel becomes easy and fun again. But if you have not already re-qualified for Hyatt status -- indeed, even if you have no status at all and have not stayed at a single Hyatt all year -- the 30 qualifying nights for an ASQ stay in February would be enough all by themselves to get you Globalist status through early 2023 under the current reduced qualifying thresholds. Please note, however, that Marriott will offer a similar two-for-one promotion beginning February 16 and lasting until April 30, so the loyalty program criterion will weigh in favor of Marriott hotels after March 1.

Marriott fans will also be happy to know that three other Marriott hotels besides the Westin are offering ASQ packages: Le Meridien starting at about $137 per night; Courtyard at $116; and Aloft at $95. I did not seriously consider any of these because I had never stayed at Le Meridien; had stayed at Courtyard once and found it OK but not as nice as Hyatt Place; and did not like the Aloft at all the one time I stayed there. But others on this thread seem to have enjoyed their ASQ stays at Courtyard and Le Meridien. To note one feature that is particularly important when you are stuck in a room for 15 days, the food at these hotels looks interesting, and the option of ordering from other Marriott hotel menus for a small additional charge -- presumably including the wonderful Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit -- looks especially interesting.

But I chose the Hyatt Place, and on balance I'm happy with my choice. I chose to pay 54,000 Baht (about 15,000 Baht above the basic price, which comes to $33 extra per night) for a larger room on a higher floor than the basic room. I have a panoramic view of the area between Asok and Phrom Phong, including a couple of parks and a stretch of the Skytrain, and enough space to walk 10,000 steps per day without feeling too ridiculous. The room contains three more or less distinct areas for the bed, the sofa (with a small table for dining), and the desk, and the total effect is about as un-claustrophobic as it's possible for a mid-range hotel room to be.

Arrival at the hotel -- I suppose you could call it "check-in" although it was conducted outside under a canopy by a hotel employee and a nurse who were both dressed like interstellar explorers, and mostly involved my reiterating health-related information I had already given numerous times; I did not give a credit card, since I had already prepaid in full -- was quick and smooth. I was escorted to my room by a man I guess was a porter or bellman, since he had already brought my luggage up and placed it outside my door. He opened the door for me (I was not given a room key and still don't have one) and I brought the luggage into the room myself. I took a moment to inspect the room and admire the view, and then I unpacked. Unpacked just about everything for a change, since this would not be a one- or three- or even five-night stay during which there might be something to be said for living partly out of a suitcase. As I noted in post #1020, I was so thrilled to be finally here that I didn't focus too much on what life was going to be like for the next 15 days and nights.

Six of those days and nights have now passed. Life in ASQ has its frustrations -- even being able to look out at the park and the tall buildings and the Skytrain is a mixed blessing, because they are so near and yet so far -- but on the whole it is not unpleasant. My meals, as well as occasional things I've requested such as additional teabags and trash bags, are placed on a table outside my door by hotel employees who knock on the door and then scurry away as quickly as they can, kind of like the guards who delivered food to Hannibal Lecter in the Silence of the Lambs.) I work from home most of the time anyway, mostly writing and editing and sending and receiving emails, and I've been more efficient here than when working at my dining-room table at home, mostly because there are fewer distractions. I have found a Thai language course online ("Everyday Thai") which works well on my phone, so that I can use it while walking around the room for exercise. I've tried a few times over the past 25 years or so to learn some basic Thai, without much success, but this time it might actually work. The hotel has also kindly lent me a yoga mat -- although the rubbery faux-wood surface that they are required to put over the carpet feels a lot like a yoga mat anyway -- and I brought some small and lightweight exercise equipment, such as a spring-based "chest expander" and some push-up handles. Dumbbells are also available from the hotel for 50 baht per day, but I have not rented them because I'm happy with the equipment I brought with me.

The one aspect of my stay here that has been somewhat problematic has been the food. This is mostly because I am a vegetarian. Although I was assured before making my reservation and prepayment that vegetarian options would be available, this turns out to mean that I'm supposed to check one of the several boxes for non-vegetarian items on the online menu and then they will prepare them as vegetarian. Since these items are all about fish, pork, chicken, and/or shrimp, what this means in practice is that I pick the item that has the most interesting sauce and then hope for the best. I've also been supplementing the online menu with emails. The chef and his staff, as well as other hotel staff including the General Manager, have really been doing their best, but the results have been mixed: some of the food I've been served has turned out to be pretty boring, and some of it has turned out to contain non-vegetarian ingredients such as fish sauce. This is really surprising in a country that has an exciting and varied vegetarian tradition, even though that tradition is not observed by most Thai people in their day-to-day lives. But even for non-vegetarians the menu here does not look as varied or as interesting as some of the Courtyard and Meridien ASQ dishes whose pictures were posted by others on this thread. So if having the very best food is really important to you and if price is no object, then the Marriott hotels (or even the higher-end ones such as the Sukhothai) might be the right choice. But even knowing what I now know about the food, I would still choose Hyatt Place because I like everything else about it.

Interestingly, the most diverse and satisfying part of the menu is the breakfasts. I have the continental breakfast every morning, which is toast, a couple of pastries, coffee or tea, cereal, and fruit; but there are also a couple of egg-centric menus as well as several Thai and Asian ones. But the staff have to deliver the breakfast and other meals to each of the 50 ASQ rooms, so sometimes the food (and particularly the coffee or tea) is not quite hot. So if there were one thing I could add to the room, it would be a microwave oven. And a couple of things I wish I had brought with me from home are a thermos bottle and/or some kind of travel-size warming device for liquids and/or other foods.

The room does come with a kettle for boiling water. This is useful not only for making tea and (if you like) instant coffee, but also as a battlefield food-warmer: I leave the top open on the kettle, bring the water inside to a boil, and hold the coffee cup or a piece of toast over the steam for a minute or so. And this reminds me of one other thing you might want to bring from home: "gourmet" tea bags. The Twinings and Lipton Yellow Label bags that come with the room are perfectly acceptable, but I happen to have a few Jing tea sachets, and I wish I had brought a few more. And there is also such a thing as gourmet instant coffee, although I know less about this than about tea.

The good news is that nothing in this life lasts forever. Yesterday I took my five-day Covid test. This was an exciting event, mainly because it was the first time I had left my room since my arrival. The head nurse, still in her Martian-explorer uniform, knocked on my door and escorted me to the elevator and then to the pool area, where another nurse put a swab in my nose. (I've had six Covid tests so far, and this was the first one that really hurt; she poked it deeper into my nostril, left it there longer, and swirled it more vigorously than in any of the previous tests; I don't know whether that's a local thing or just about this particular nurse. But I can stand almost anything for 30 seconds or so.) This morning I got the negative result. That means that starting tomorrow (Day 7) I'll get 40 minutes per day to stand, sit, or walk around in the rooftop "relaxation area" (formerly the bar), which if I recall correctly is somewhat more than Dr. Lecter was allowed. There will be another Covid test on Day 13, which is one week from today, and assuming that one is also negative I will be a free man on the morning of Day 15.
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Old Feb 10, 21, 12:35 am
  #1039  
 
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Originally Posted by transpac View Post
Last seven months...makes sense based on past figures published by different governmental agencies.

According to data released earlier this week by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Deputy Permanent Secretary, Chutintorn Sam Gongsakdi, just 78,328 foreigners with Certificates of Entry (COE) have entered Thailand between 9 July 2020 and 6 February 2021.

Of those, 1,157 were Elite Card holders & 2,457 were Special Tourist Visa holders.

Not all of the 78,238 were tourists of course. All of these were foreigners.

Based on previous DCA figures, the total number of tourists is easily below 15,000.

Elite qualify as "tourist" according to the DCA, as do STV, TR60 and TVE.
total number of COE holders is 78'238 within 7 month...
is this confirmed that ALL those are foreigners as also Thai citizens need a COE to enter Thailand...?
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Old Feb 10, 21, 4:00 am
  #1040  
 
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Originally Posted by Assimilated Cajun View Post
I have found a Thai language course online ("Everyday Thai") which works well on my phone, so that I can use it while walking around the room for exercise. I've tried a few times over the past 25 years or so to learn some basic Thai, without much success, but this time it might actually work.
Everyday Thai is good. Also try Drops - they have a Thai version. It's 15 minute bursts of repetition in a few different ways. I learned enough new words in Thai to almost carry a conversation! 15 days worth of practice, with multiple 15 minute sessions really helped my pronunciation. Using Everyday Thai, Drops, and Simply Thai, repeating words and phrases over and over, people can actually understand me now. Try Drops out - Simply Thai is another one but not as good.
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Old Feb 10, 21, 5:32 am
  #1041  
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Originally Posted by Assimilated Cajun View Post
So if there were one thing I could add to the room, it would be a microwave oven.
For what it's worth, during my quarantine at Le Meridien I asked for a microwave oven and they brought one to my room which I kept for the duration of the stay.
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Old Feb 10, 21, 5:42 am
  #1042  
 
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Originally Posted by eccentricfusion View Post
Everyday Thai is good. Also try Drops - they have a Thai version. It's 15 minute bursts of repetition in a few different ways. I learned enough new words in Thai to almost carry a conversation! 15 days worth of practice, with multiple 15 minute sessions really helped my pronunciation. Using Everyday Thai, Drops, and Simply Thai, repeating words and phrases over and over, people can actually understand me now. Try Drops out - Simply Thai is another one but not as good.
the best way to learn Thai is with a teacher one to one as he/she can correct your pronounciation. Correct pronounciation and correct use of tones is more important for Thai language than any western language. Know many foreigners, who know many words in Thai, but they are not understood by locals at all as their pronounciation sucks.
There are a few companies which offer online sessions with teachers during quarantine...
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Old Feb 10, 21, 6:19 am
  #1043  
 
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Originally Posted by BinSabai View Post
Correct pronounciation and correct use of tones is more important for Thai language than any western language. Know many foreigners, who know many words in Thai, but they are not understood by locals at all as their pronounciation sucks.
Yes, that’s probably the main reason I’ve never been able to make much progress. I have the same problem with Vietnamese, which I have been studying diligently for many years. One of the only phrases I know how to say properly in that language is “when I speak Vietnamese, Vietnamese people do not understand.”
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Old Feb 10, 21, 10:28 am
  #1044  
 
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Originally Posted by eccentricfusion View Post
I stayed at the Courtyard for my ASQ, so unless my pics/review were successful in steering you away from the Courtyard, the thanks probably goes to Kalboz and escape4, both of them reviewed and posted pictures from the Le Meridien.
Ah yes, of course. Sorry for the mistake. Your comment that the food looked marginally better at LM did come into play, though minimally. When I first applied for the COE, I indicated LM, so I just stuck with it.

I am thankful for everyone that has posted their thoughts / pics / reviews.

Originally Posted by Assimilated Cajun View Post
As noted in my previous post (#1020), my alternative state quarantine (ASQ) hotel is the Hyatt Place Bangkok Sukhumvit. As those of you who have looked into ASQ options already know, there is a wide range of choices. A few are quite inexpensive -- perhaps $70 or $80 per night for the complete room/meals/transport/tests/etc package -- but look pretty dismal. And then there are a few high-end hotels whose basic rooms start at $300 per night for the ASQ package and that offer suites or villas at $500 or more. (All these prices are quoted online in Baht for the whole 15 nights; I have converted them into the per-night US$ charge at a rate of 30 Baht per dollar. Also, please note that these prices are "net": that is, all taxes and service charges are already included.)

.....

The good news is that nothing in this life lasts forever. Yesterday I took my five-day Covid test. This was an exciting event, mainly because it was the first time I had left my room since my arrival. The head nurse, still in her Martian-explorer uniform, knocked on my door and escorted me to the elevator and then to the pool area, where another nurse put a swab in my nose. (I've had six Covid tests so far, and this was the first one that really hurt; she poked it deeper into my nostril, left it there longer, and swirled it more vigorously than in any of the previous tests; I don't know whether that's a local thing or just about this particular nurse. But I can stand almost anything for 30 seconds or so.) This morning I got the negative result. That means that starting tomorrow (Day 7) I'll get 40 minutes per day to stand, sit, or walk around in the rooftop "relaxation area" (formerly the bar), which if I recall correctly is somewhat more than Dr. Lecter was allowed. There will be another Covid test on Day 13, which is one week from today, and assuming that one is also negative I will be a free man on the morning of Day 15.
Thanks again for your thoughtful, detailed posts. I feel well prepared for what to expect upon arrival and at ASQ.
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Old Feb 14, 21, 11:50 am
  #1045  
 
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My trip scheduled for yesterday fell apart. My first flight from CVG->EWR ended up with a 4+ hour delay due to crew issues. Thanks United...

No way to get me to connection on time. Only options they could find were totally different flights / transit airports / arrival day. Figured there was no way I was going to get far with totally different details on all my paperwork. So I had to cancel the entire trip.
Spent this weekend re-planning everything. Found and booked new flights. LeMeridien has been great. They postponed my reservation, and will reschedule without penalty once I get things approved.

Sent an email to Thai Embassy DC asking them to re-open my COE so I can revise my travel details. Will have to get another Fit to Fly and another COVID test...and these are not cheap. I bought 60 day insurance policy, so that will still be valid for new dates.

Can't believe my bad luck with this. Have traveled weekly on the EWR-CVG route, and not one delay.
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Old Feb 14, 21, 7:48 pm
  #1046  
 
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Originally Posted by goodeats21 View Post
My trip scheduled for yesterday fell apart. My first flight from CVG->EWR ended up with a 4+ hour delay due to crew issues. Thanks United...

No way to get me to connection on time. Only options they could find were totally different flights / transit airports / arrival day. Figured there was no way I was going to get far with totally different details on all my paperwork. So I had to cancel the entire trip.
Spent this weekend re-planning everything. Found and booked new flights. LeMeridien has been great. They postponed my reservation, and will reschedule without penalty once I get things approved.

Sent an email to Thai Embassy DC asking them to re-open my COE so I can revise my travel details. Will have to get another Fit to Fly and another COVID test...and these are not cheap. I bought 60 day insurance policy, so that will still be valid for new dates.

Can't believe my bad luck with this. Have traveled weekly on the EWR-CVG route, and not one delay.
I am sorry to hear this bad news. Was this delay UA CVG-EWR due to winter weather conditions on the east coast, I wonder? The entire ASQ process is fraught with opportunities for things to go wrong, all requiring considerable additional expense.
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Old Feb 15, 21, 12:23 am
  #1047  
 
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Originally Posted by goodeats21 View Post
My trip scheduled for yesterday fell apart. My first flight from CVG->EWR ended up with a 4+ hour delay due to crew issues. Thanks United...
I feel sorry for you!
I heard embassies are very fast to issue new COE (therefore final delay might be only few days) and maybe UA could reimburse you for the additional test and ftf?
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Old Feb 15, 21, 12:50 am
  #1048  
 
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Originally Posted by BinSabai View Post
... and maybe UA could reimburse you for the additional test and ftf?
Unfortunately I think that would be very unlikely.
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Old Feb 15, 21, 6:59 am
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Thanks all for the well wishes. Honestly, was pretty gutted on Saturday morning. Doing better now.

Originally Posted by restlessinRNO View Post
I am sorry to hear this bad news. Was this delay UA CVG-EWR due to winter weather conditions on the east coast, I wonder? The entire ASQ process is fraught with opportunities for things to go wrong, all requiring considerable additional expense.
I don't believe it was weather related. Saturday wasn't a particularly bad weather day in the system.
Delay was attributed to not having a crew, so could have been weather, or crew sickness, or other. No way to know.

Originally Posted by BinSabai View Post
I feel sorry for you!
I heard embassies are very fast to issue new COE (therefore final delay might be only few days) and maybe UA could reimburse you for the additional test and ftf?
I am still waiting to hear back from the embassy. Today is public holiday (President's Day) so they are closed again today. Hopefully will hear tomorrow.
I am planning to try again this Saturday, assuming I can get the COE revised in time.

1K desk told me to write in for compensation, but I don't put much faith in the result. Will send something off today.

Originally Posted by restlessinRNO View Post
Unfortunately I think that would be very unlikely.
Agreed. Might throw some miles or an e-cert my way. No idea how stingy they have become in the COVID era.
But for sure will not come close to compensating for costs I am incurring.
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Old Feb 15, 21, 8:25 am
  #1050  
 
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Originally Posted by goodeats21 View Post
I am still waiting to hear back from the embassy. Today is public holiday (President's Day) so they are closed again today. Hopefully will hear tomorrow.
I am planning to try again this Saturday, assuming I can get the COE revised in time.
I noticed that our embassy worked even during weekends and holidays. The first approval was given during holiday within 12 hours and final COE I got within another 12 hours after submission on a Sunday...and not that it would have been very urgent for me...
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