Thailand Once Shut Out Covid-19 but Is Now Pivoting to Living With It – The Wall Street Journal

Last year, Thailand was one of the worlds top performers at fighting the coronavirus. It sacrificed the tourism dollars that normally buoy its economy to shut out Covid-19. In September, it celebrated 100 consecutive days of no locally transmitted infections.

The government is now making a stark departure from that vision of an infection-free oasis. Its new message: Learn to live with the virus long term.

Thailand has been struggling to contain a monthslong surge in infections, fix a faltering vaccine rollout and combat growing impatience among citizens over its battered economy. Its recalibration shows how several developing countrieseven those that fared well for monthsare battling crises on multiple frontsas richer nations inoculate rapidly and reinvigorate their economies.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha pledged this week to fully reopen the nation in the next 120 days, or by mid-October, allowing most restrictions on business and tourism to be lifted. Foreign visitors would have to be vaccinated but could enter and travel freely. Doing so, he said, would mean accepting higher infection rates, but the step is necessary to ease the enormous suffering of those struggling to earn a living.

I know this decision comes with some risk because when we open the country, there will be an increase in infections, no matter how good our precautions, he said in a televised address Wednesday. But, I think, when we take into consideration the economic needs of people, the time has now come for us to take that calculated risk.

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Thailand Once Shut Out Covid-19 but Is Now Pivoting to Living With It - The Wall Street Journal

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