The Latest - restrictions, visas, entry requirements, etc.

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Re: The Latest - restrictions, visas, entry requirements, etc.

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Lots of photos with this article. Click on the link at the end.
_______________________________________________

BMA checks Suvarnabhumi’s readiness before reopening

by The Nation

October 26, 2021

Officials from Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) on Monday visited Suvarnabhumi Airport to check its Covid-19 preventive measures before the province will reopen to vaccinated foreign visitors from November 1 onward.

Bangkok will join other 14 provinces in the pilot phase of reopening Thailand to foreign tourists. Under the plan, visitors travelling by air from countries have that a low level of Covid-19 infections will not have to quarantine, but they must prove they have received both jabs of an approved Covid-19 vaccine as well as produce a negative RT-PCR test result taken no more than 72 hours before flying.

The group, led by deputy governor Pol Lt-General Sophon Phisutthiwong and representatives from Tourism Authority of Thailand, Tourist Police Bureau and related agencies, witnessed the demonstration of Thailand Pass QR Code checkpoints at Concourse C Building, before visited the areas where foreign passengers will meet with staff from alternative quarantine hotels to ensure the efficient and safe transportation of passengers at Gate 9 of the Passenger Terminal.

After inspecting several areas of Suvarnabhumi Airport, officials traveled to Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park Hotel in Khlong Toei district to check the hotel’s readiness in managing guest rooms, public areas, pools, spas and restaurants under Safety & Health Administration Plus (SHA+) standard. The SHA+ standard also requires employees of the business to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 at least 70 per cent of the entire staff.

After the inspection, Sophon told the press that so far Bangkok has vaccinated over 74.9 per cent of its population at two doses, while the number of people who received the first jab has exceeded 100 per cent of the province’s population in the census record.

Story and photos: https://www.nationthailand.com/in-focus/40007984

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Re: The Latest - restrictions, visas, entry requirements, etc.

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Compulsory health insurance for Thailand’s opening still in confusion

By Barry Kenyon

October 26, 2021

Everyone knows why Thai authorities are insisting on medical cover for all foreign visitors. In 2019, according to the public health authority, unpaid hospital bills amounted to 448 million baht and rising. That, of course, was in the pre-pandemic era, before Covid coughed its way into the headlines.

From November 1, most foreigners entering the country will need Covid-specific insurance to the value of US$50,000, which replaces the former US$100,000 floor, presumably to encourage international tourism. The exceptions will be foreigners working officially with Labour Department permits since they pay a percentage of their salaries into the government’s social security fund which covers hospitalization.

Initially, the civil aviation authority stated the insurance must be from a Thai company, but we later found out that foreign-based companies are also eligible. We have yet to see the details of any newly-devised US$50,000 policy. For example, the website http://covid19.tgia.org/, representing the Thai General Insurance Association, has not yet been updated.

The obvious questions about refunds if a foreign trip is cancelled, what happens if you test positive for the virus on arrival in Thailand and what hospital treatment (and where) you can actually expect are still grey areas. Policies also need to clarify if fees are automatically paid, or if you must pay the hospital bill first and claim back the cash in your own time. Each insurance company will differ significantly on the detail. You can bet your life on it.

The current Thai proposals excuse most entrants from having non Covid-related, general health insurance. So if you break your leg on holiday, or catch significant malaria, you won’t be covered unless you take out a separate and expensive add-on or separate policy. In other words, the long-standing issue of stranded farang desperately needing a heart bypass and pleading for crowd funding to get back home is not being addressed.

However, compulsory general medical insurance might be still required for two groups who have hitherto needed it on top of Covid cover. They are the one year O/A retiree visa holders and those holding the Special Tourist Visa which allows tourists to remain in the country up to nine months. To find out more, we will have to wait for embassies to update their websites giving detailed instructions on visas.

Unless there is a seismic shock about to descend on the expat population, foreigners extending their visas or obtaining extensions of stay at Thai immigration offices will not be required to show any insurance documentation. Unless, of course, they hold the O/A annual visa which is always and mysteriously in a category of its own. Moreover, compulsory vaccination for expats remaining in Thailand is not a criterion for staying here. Not yet, that is.

A lot of medical insurance for travellers is aged-capped. It may be difficult for some intended visitors to Thailand to qualify for entry once they reach 65 or 75 even though they are the wealthiest target group according to marketing research. In the post-pandemic world, health insurance in some form will become virtually universal for international travellers. If Thailand is to make a success of its opening-up policy, a host of medical detail awaits clarification. And sooner rather than later.

https://www.pattayamail.com/latestnews/ ... ion-377092

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Re: The Latest - restrictions, visas, entry requirements, etc.

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Barry Kenyon wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 6:54 am
In 2019, according to the public health authority, unpaid hospital bills amounted to 448 million baht and rising.
Didn't Thailand claim to have 39 million inbound tourists back in 2019 ?

Without bothering to use the calculator, this debt works out at about 11 baht per tourist.

Tourists who pay tax on the hotels, tax on purchases in shops, tax on purchases of beer & who knows what other taxes.

Rather than worry about a microscopic problem, they should concentrate on the bigger challenges, such as trying to get the tourists to return.

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Re: The Latest - restrictions, visas, entry requirements, etc.

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Jun wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 2:47 pm
they should concentrate on the bigger challenges, such as trying to get the tourists to return.
That 11 baht per tourist still works out to around US $15-million. From where I sit, that's a lot of money to just kiss off. So, instead of putting everyone through all the rigmarole, to me it would make better sense to increase the fees tourists pay by about 50 baht per tourist - the equivalent of about US $1.70 per tourist. I doubt too many tourists would find that prohibitive and it would more than cover losses suffered by hospitals due to cheating individuals or whatever reasons.

Of course, if that fee would be earmarked for hospital losses, does anyone truly believe that's where the money would actually end up or does anyone suspect it just might end up in the pockets of some VIP's brother-in-law?

In any case, I certainly agree that the challenges involved trying to get international tourists to return ought to supersede almost everything else.

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Re: The Latest - restrictions, visas, entry requirements, etc.

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I don't know, it still seems like a lot of hoops to jump through to me. We'll know soon enough whether the optimism of Thailand's powers-that-be pan out.

One good thing, in my opinion - the Chinese tourists still cannot come back to Thailand and from what I read, it will be at least late 2022, if then, before they will be allowed to travel to Thailand in pre-Covid hordes.

My own prediction is there won't be very many travelers until at least December, when the bars and entertainment venues can reopen. And there still has been nothing said, at least nothing I've seen, about when the bars reopen they will actually be permitted to sell alcohol. It would be an awfully moronic decision if the bars can reopen, but sell only soft drinks. "Uhh, waiter - one Shirley Temple please - on the rocks . . ."

We also don't know yet what the rules will be for the bars and entertainment venues. Somehow I don't see things being quite the same way they were before Covid.

Nevertheless, here is the latest about the travel rules:
________________________

Rules for travellers clarified

by Karnjana Karnjanatawe

October 29, 2021

The Department of Consular Affairs and the Tourism Authority of Thailand have clarified rules governing international arrivals when the country opens on Monday.

Travellers will be categorised into three groups, according to Naruechai Ninnart, director of the Protection of Thai Nationals Abroad Division, Department of Consular Affairs.

The first are fully vaccinated visitors from 46 countries ( http://www.thaiembassy.com ). They must stay one night in either a Safety and Health Administration Plus (SHA+) certified hotel or an alternative quarantine hotel for a RT-PCR test and wait for the result.

"They can travel anywhere in Thailand if the result is negative," Mr Naruechai said.

The second group is fully vaccinated visitors from countries not on the list of 46. They must stay in SHA+hotels for seven nights in a "sandbox" area, he said.

The sandbox scheme will be expanded from Phuket to cover 17 provinces in total, starting on Nov 1, including Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Krabi. (Some provinces are limited to some districts.)

"If visitors pass the second Covid-19 test [on Day 6 or 7], they can travel anywhere in Thailand after completing seven nights in the sandbox area," he said.

The third group is unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated travellers. They are required to stay in alternative quarantine hotels for 10 nights. When they pass the second Covid-19 test on Day 8 or 9, they can travel to other places in Thailand.

CoE vs Thailand Pass

Before arriving, foreign travellers must apply for a Thailand Pass which will be introduced on Nov 1 at 9am (local time) to replace the Certificate of Entry (CoE). A portal site (https://tp.consular.go.th) is where visitors need to submit required documents including a vaccination certificate and medical insurance with minimum coverage of US$50,000 (about 1.6 million baht).

"Thailand Pass will be a quicker verification process than CoE but it still requires one to seven days before the Thailand Pass QR code can be issued to applicants," Mr Naruechai said.

The approval process will be quick if vaccine certification is in the digital format, he said.

It means travellers who want to fly to Thailand on Nov 1 or until Nov 7 still need to apply for a CoE.

Travelling with children

Children under 12 travelling with their parents are not required to have a vaccine certificate. If the parents are fully vaccinated and have a certificate, the certificate also covers their kids, Mr Naruechai said.

For children older than 12, a vaccine certificate and medical insurance are required.

Medical insurance

At the moment, only Thai nationals are not required to have medical insurance as their medical costs will be covered by the National Health Security Office or Social Security office.

"We will work with the Public Health Ministry and the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration [CCSA] to extend the exemption to foreign residents who already have medical insurance in Thailand," Mr Naurechai said.

For foreign travellers, they have to make sure that their insurance policy does not only specify Covid-19 health coverage. It should cover other kinds of sickness as well as hospitalisation expenses.

The CCSA will meet today to discuss the health insurance exemption issue for foreign residents. It should be effective hopefully before Nov 1, he said.

Visitors from 46 countries

Fully vaccinated visitors from the 46 listed countries are required to have stayed at least 21 days in one or more of those countries before travelling to Thailand.

They can stay 10 days in the US, for example, another 10 days in France and one day in Hong Kong. The total is 21 days, then they can fly to Thailand, Mr Naruechai said.

For fully vaccinated Thais and foreign residents who travel to one of the 46 countries for a shorter period of time such as for a three-day meeting, they are not required to spend at least 21 days in the eligible countries.

The exception will not apply to Thais or foreign residents who visit other countries that are not on the list of 46 eligible countries, he said.

For transit passengers going through other countries that are not on the list, they can continue their journey to Thailand if the transit period does not exceed 12 hours and if they do not leave the airport.

When in Thailand

During the initial phase, visitors can enter Thailand through six international airports in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Samui and Rayong (U-Tapao airport). Buri Ram airport is only open to charter flights.

Visitors must show a negative RT-PCR test result issued within 72 hours before travelling together with the Thailand Pass QR code to a Department of Disease Control official and Immigration officer.

They also need to download and register with the Mor Chana application. The app will require them to evaluate their health condition daily while in Thailand.

From the airport to the hotel, they must travel in SHA+ vehicles, not in a normal taxi.

"They must travel via a sealed route from the airport to the hotel," Mr Naurechai said.

The hotel will work with a hospital to provide the RT-PCR test.

"Price ceilings for RT-PCR tests will be announced so that the service fee will not be much different from those in other parts of the country," he said.

Fully vaccinated Thai and foreign residents cannot quarantine in their homes for the first night in Thailand. They must stay in a hotel until they get their RT-PCR test result.

They can leave the hotel when the test result is negative. If the result is positive, they will be sent to a hospital or a quarantine hotel, Mr Naurechai said.

Story and graphics: https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/ge ... -clarified

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‘Thailand Pass’ website comes online for foreign visitors Nov 1

By Pattaya Mail

October 29, 2021

The ‘Thailand Pass’ system is ready to welcome visitors to the country from Nov 1 onwards, allowing them to ‘test and go’ and avoid paperwork.

Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said ‘Thailand Pass’ would replace the Certificate of Entry (COE) requirement and offer quick immigration to visitors from Nov 1 onwards. Inbound foreigners and Thais can apply for ‘Thailand Pass’ at https://tp.consular.go.th/ before their trips and wait 1-3 days for approval which will depend on their vaccination certificates.

After receiving the approval, travelers can download the Thailand Pass QR Code right away and present it to their airlines and officials at screening checkpoints together with the results of their COVID-19 tests conducted no longer than 72 hours before their flights, the spokesman said.

Those who arrive from 45 countries and Hong Kong can travel farther in the country in the “Test and Go” manner after staying at a specific hotel for one night to wait for the results of their RT-PCR tests for COVID-19.

https://www.pattayamail.com/thailandnew ... v-1-377258
__________________________

Part of the following article says incoming travelers will need to download the Mor Chana app. Of course, you can download it right now if you want. I don't know if there is a new version, but mine is entirely in Thai. But it is very simple to use. Any idiot ought to be able to figure it out in a minute or two. It is used only for entering and exiting places that require it. But now most places that were requiring it no longer do and most people seem to be ignoring it. Maybe once tourists start coming in it will be more rigidly enforced, but everywhere - and I mean everywhere - I've seen the QR code to scan for the Mor Chana app, there are also sign in sheets on which you write your name and telephone number rather than using the app. Actually, most people I've seen use the sign in sheets rather than the app or are just ignoring both - and nobody, including venue staff, pays attention anymore.

If you are coming into Thailand, you're going to need a smartphone and it will probably be a good idea to get a Thai telephone number if you don't already have one. You can get a Thai telephone number at any mobile phone shop or convenience store in Thailand. Make sure you have your passport with you when you get the number. Without it, they can't sell you a number. Thai telephone numbers can be had for as little as 99 baht last time I checked.
__________________________

'Thailand Pass' set for Monday

All systems are go ahead of reopening

29 October, 2021

The government will launch the "Thailand Pass" system to fast-track procedures for foreign visitors when the country reopens on Monday.

Meanwhile, Bangkok governor Pol Gen Aswin Kwanmuang said the capital is ready to welcome back travellers from overseas as "all" of the city's residents have received their first shots of a Covid-19 vaccine and 75% have been double vaccinated.

Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said Thailand is ready to reopen with the Thailand Pass system set to replace certificates of entry (CoE) and reduce unnecessary paperwork.

The Department of Consular Affairs worked with the Digital Government Development Agency (DGA) to develop the new web-based system for both Thai and foreign travellers to fill in their travel and health information and upload related documents before they set off.

Foreign tourists and Thais who wish to enter Thailand can register for Thailand Pass online at https://tp.consular.go.th from Monday. Approval should take one to three days.

Immediate approval would apply in cases where applicants' vaccine documents can be verified instantly using a provided QR code, provided the issuing country has supplied a "public key" so Thai authorities can verify the document, Mr Thanakorn said.

The Department of Disease Control will also carry out inspections according to the criteria set by the Public Health Ministry. A system has been put in place to verify Safety & Health Administration (SHA) Plus accommodation bookings and alternative quarantine (AQ) systems, the spokesman said.

Once they have received approval, travellers can download the Thailand Pass QR code to show to airline and screening officers. They will also need to present Covid-19 test results from no later than 72 hours prior to travel, Mr Thanakorn said.

Upon arrival in Thailand, they will not need to fill out TM.8 and TM.6 forms, but only download the "Mor Chana" application.

Visitors from 45 countries and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region that are exempt from quarantine or Test-and-Go tourists must stay one night at an SHA Plus or AQ hotel to receive their RT-PCR test and wait for the result, the spokesman said.

Mr Thanakorn said those who travel later can update some of their information.

They will not need to submit a new application as the system will keep their information for one year since their last vaccination date.

Those who have already received a CoE can still use that document and can seek refunds directly from the hotels where they registered, the spokesman said.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will chair a meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration to discuss preparations for the looming reopening. Asked if Bangkok could face another lockdown given another surge, Pol Gen Aswin said an assessment will be made every seven days.

He expressed confidence in the vaccination drive, adding the remaining 25% of the city's population would get their second shots in the coming days.

"Emergency response plans for Bangkok are already in place. Measures are also in place to handle visitors to important sites such as the Grand Palace, the Emerald Buddha Temple and Wat Pho," he said.

"Visitors must book hotels beforehand. When they check in, they will be tested for Covid-19 and spend a night waiting for results.

"If the results come back negative, they will be allowed to travel. Visitors who do not book hotels will not be allowed to enter."

https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/ge ... for-monday

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Gaybutton wrote:
Fri Oct 29, 2021 3:06 pm
most places that were requiring it no longer do and most people seem to be ignoring it. Maybe once tourists start coming in it will be more rigidly enforced, but everywhere - and I mean everywhere - I've seen the QR code to scan for the Mor Chana app, there are also sign in sheets on which you write your name and telephone number rather than using the app. Actually, most people I've seen use the sign in sheets rather than the app or are just ignoring both - and nobody, including venue staff, pays attention anymore.
Remind me, what is the procedure if you're contacted by the tracers after an outbreak ?

If this involves having to isolate, just because others might have had the virus, it is obvious why people avoid it.
If this involves having to take a covid test, then getting sent to some hospital if failing, it is obvious why people avoid it.

During the last trip,if enforced, I'd write my phone number down. Making sure it was legible wasn't exactly my top priority.

I'm delighted to see this is being ignored. If I have anything to do with it, my only official covid test will be the one on arrival. I might just pack a box of the NHS lateral flow tests.

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Jun wrote:
Fri Oct 29, 2021 4:38 pm
Remind me, what is the procedure if you're contacted by the tracers after an outbreak ?
I don't remember all the details. People were told they were exposed to the virus and were urged to take a Covid test. If I remember correctly, nobody was pressed to take a test unless they started getting sick.

Whether the procedures will still be the same when Thailand opens remains to be seen. It seems to me they've come up with yet another idea that isn't going to work. What good does it do to require tourists to have an app which very few people even use at all and tourists can easily bypass, which is exactly what I expect them to do once they become bored with it and realize hardly any Thais are bothering with it?

I can hardly wait to see how this is going to work once tour groups get started again, especially the Chinese tour groups. Do they truly believe dozens of people are going to line up, use the app whenever they enter somewhere and then use it again when they're leaving?

Sorry Thailand, but

"You'll have to do better than that."
- Nicol Williamson (Merlin), 'Excalibur'

Where's my "I Don't Get It" list?

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Re: The Latest - restrictions, visas, entry requirements, etc.

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Yep, way to go, Thailand! Foreigners may start trying to get into Thailand less than 2 days from the time of this post and probably already bought Covid-only insurance. But the good ol' powers-that-be changed the rules yet again. What happens? If any of these people who might be unaware of rule changes make it as far as Suvarnabhumi Airport, will they be told sorry, but we're not letting you in?

And what about elderly people who may have managed to buy Covid-only insurance, but can't get anything else? They did what Thailand asked them to do, but are they holding an insurance policy now rendered worthless?

Thailand doesn't seem to mind changing the rules in the middle of the game. Personally, I'd be concerned that they'll change the rules yet again while I'm in the air on a flight to Thailand.

Thailand, if you don't want foreign tourists, why don't you just say so . . . ?
_________________________________________________________

Thailand appears to change policy on medical insurance for visitors

By Barry Kenyon

October 29, 2021

The latest notice from the Department of Consular Affairs and the Tourist Authority of Thailand specifies that the medical cover required of all foreigners entering the country must be widely based: it mustn’t relate only to coronavirus illness. The text in English reads, “Medical insurance with a minimum coverage of US$50,000 should be a broad policy, not specific to Covid-19 only, and cover hospitalization expenses.”

Previously, government announcements had restricted future cover to Covid-related sickness or had simply stated “medical insurance” without amplification. The announcement has caught the Thai and foreign insurance companies off-guard. For example, the website of the Thai General Insurance for Foreigners website, 72 hours before the new rules take effect, was still offering Covid-only insurance and cover for a minimum of US$100,000 (not half that). Yes people are confused.

If confirmed, the latest “clarification” means that Covid-only insurance will no longer be valid for entry to the kingdom via the Thailand Pass portal. People already here, who take a short trip abroad and fly back, may find their former insurance cover does not allow them to return. The elderly may find that they cannot get medical insurance which is “general” rather than “Covid-specific”, or must buy worthless policies. To add to the confusion, some immigration offices are already informing customers that annual extensions of stay for “non-immigrant O/A” holders will require cover of US$100,000 to qualify.

Foreigners who have work permits have been told that they may not need any extra insurance because they are already payees into the Thai social security system which covers hospitalization. However, their exemption apparently requires approval at the highest level of government.

It seems that the latest US$50,000 bombshell requires general medical cover for the period of the visa, or permission of stay, actually granted which can vary between 15 days (visa on arrival) to one year (0/A annual visa) with multiple alternatives in-between. There is no indication yet whether the insurance cover requirement will carry forward for extensions at immigration bureaux. In the past, most foreigners have not needed to show insurance documentation for extensions.

Many social media bloggers are already arguing that the new rule is acceptable as travelling without medical insurance these days is ridiculous. But the point here is that the rules could simply create a vast, boiling cauldron of confusion and dissuade many international travellers from even thinking of applying for a visa. Additionally, general medical insurance is expensive and Thailand could price herself out of the market unless she keeps in step with competitors. Much ordinary travel insurance for vacationers does not cover high amounts and certainly does not guarantee to cover hospitalization willy-nilly. There are lots of insurers’ conditions, exceptions and loopholes.

As regards the elderly, Thailand has a formal policy of encouraging “rich” pensioners to come and live in Thailand. They will be offered long-term visas in return for buying new condo units or investing lavishly in Thai bonds. Not to mention being excused from 90 days reporting. But it looks like an 80 year old billionaire arriving in a private jet may be barred from the program because he or she cannot buy limited medical insurance. Whatever happened to the concept of self-insurance for the well-to-do? Surely a rethink is required.

https://www.pattayamail.com/latestnews/ ... ors-377436

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Pattaya booze ban stays, operators peeved

Resort city worried about diminished appeal to foreigners as tourism gears up

by Chaiyot Pupattanapong

29 October, 2021

Local tourism operators are upset that the popular resort city has been left off a short list of places where alcohol sales will be allowed in restaurants starting on Monday.

Pattaya deserves to be included in a four-province cluster where restaurants will have permission to sell alcoholic beverages to patrons, said Boon-anant Pattanasin, president of the Pattaya Business and Tourism Association.

He made the comment after the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration said that eateries in Bangkok, Krabi, Phangnga and Phuket would be the only places allowed to sell beer, wine and the like from Monday in line with the reopening of the country to travellers.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has said that authorities hope to be able to allow alcohol sales in restaurants and other venues nationwide from Dec 1, as the country gears up for the year-end festive season.

Pattaya risked losing an edge to compete with other tourism provinces, even though the city is among the leading destinations in the country for foreigners, Mr Boon-anant said.

He said Covid cases in Pattaya were fewer than Bangkok but the alcohol ban was being lifted in the capital. The spread of the virus in Chon Buri province also tended to be concentrated in factory clusters outside Pattaya, he added.

Chon Buri on Friday reported 382 new cases, the provincial public health office reported. Sri Racha district had the most new infections with 90, while Bang Lamung, where Pattaya is located, logged 48.

https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/ge ... ors-peeved

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