Don’t be scammed into paying for Thailand Pass: task force

Photo: Tourism Authority of Thailand
Photo: Tourism Authority of Thailand

As if anything were free from scams, travelers to Thailand have been tricked into paying fees for what’s supposed to be a free process. 

The COVID-19 task force today took a break from its usual doomcasting to note reports of people paying “registration fees” for the Thailand Pass system, which has been suspended since late last month due to the nation’s latest wave of infections.

“To reiterate again, there is no registration fee for Thailand Pass,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Natapanu Nopakun said. “There have been reports of people asked illegally to pay registration fees. It is a service rendered free of charge.”

He did not elaborate on the nature of the reported scams.

When the system which facilitates travel from abroad for vaccinated travelers reopens, travelers should only apply via the official website rather than middlemen or agencies.

The Test & Go travel program also remains suspended indefinitely. Those who have already obtained approval in the form of a QR code may enter the country as scheduled. Travelers wishing to enter at this time have to opt for the “sandbox” scheme or hotel quarantine-on-arrival.

As the new wave of COVID washes over the realm, public health authorities have announced that they plan to “effectively” manage the pandemic using ATK test kits as their frontline screening method.

Today saw another 8,158 cases, a number that’s likely a staggering undercount according to epidemiologists. Fifteen more people died of the disease as well, all of whom were unvaccinated.

“The fatality rate remains at 1%,” Natapanu said. “This is especially true with this latest wave of the Omicron variant under home isolation with close monitoring and evaluation by competent health authorities.”

Regarding vaccinations, those over 18 who have never received any dose are advised to get either two doses of AstraZeneca, an AstraZeneca and Pfizer jab, or one Sinovac and another AstraZeneca. 

In a tacit admission that the Chinese-made Sinovac is especially ineffective, health officials advise those 12 to 17 to double-down on Pfizer. 

As for boosters, anyone inoculated Sinovac and AZ prior to November are advised to get another AstraZeneca. Those who had double AZ should mix it up with some Pfizer. Those vaccinated at least four weeks ago with non-mRNA vaccines like AZ or Janssen should take the AZ upgrade path.

While Omicron is proving less lethal as expected, it is straining the medical system. Nearly 75,000 hospital beds were filled today, more than double the 33,000 in use Jan. 1.

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