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Coronavirus outbreak: A short guide and update for expats in Thailand

Covid-19 has taken Thailand by storm and continues to spread panic as people from all walks of life do whatever they can to avoid contracting the disease. A lot of expats living in Thailand remain worried about their health especially families with children and elderly relatives. The pandemic which has spread across South-east Asia and the entire world, except Antarctica, is making it difficult for people to go about their everyday lives and activities.

The constant barrage of new updates concerning Covid-19 is enough to cause serious mental health issues. The implementation of social distancing is in place and people are advised to stay at home to prevent getting infected, but also from spreading the disease if they have symptoms. For expats living in Thailand, this experience can be overwhelming and cause fear and concern within the family.

In this guide by Pacific Prime Thailand, we are going to give you an overview of the main things to focus on including ways to prevent infection, as well as what to expect in the near future, and how to secure health insurance that covers treatment for Covid-19, before you get infected.

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Important guidelines for expats living in Thailand

This is a time of action and prevention, and those that understand will have the highest chances of getting through this situation than those that do not adhere to the advice given. As of writing, three Covid-19 patients have fallen victim to the viral infection while 106 new cases have been confirmed, which takes Thailand’s total cases past 800. With the country undergoing rapid change, below are some key points to apply to your everyday life:

Avoid traveling at all costs

This may sound harsh for many but the idea of traveling means that the virus has greater mobility and an increased chance of infecting other people. If you live in a city, town, or village along the coasts, in rural areas, or high up in the mountains, then you should remain within the safety of your residence. People’s circumstances may be different but with the implementation of social distancing, our home or place of residence offers the best shield.

By staying put you reduce the chance of coming across the virus from an infected person but also exposing your family to the virus. Remember that those at most risk are the elderly that have pre-existing conditions and could prove fatal if they already have a weak immune system.

Travel restrictions will greatly reduce the rate in which the infection can spread and give the country’s health system including public and private hospitals a chance to treat the most acute and gather momentum to tackle the virus moving forward in 2020.

Clean and disinfect

If your home is the safest place of refuge, then all members of the household should agree on measures to prevent infection. This will include cleaning surfaces exposed to the elements, for example, porch, front door, foyer but also in certain areas of the residence that can harbor the virus, like in the bathroom or toilet. Cleaning is about removing contaminants from a surface and disinfecting is about killing pathogens. Do both daily to reduce forming the perfect conditions for infections like Covid-19 from propagating. Other high-touch surfaces are sources that require regular cleaning including:

  • Doorknobs
  • Table surfaces
  • Hard dining chairs (seat, back, and arms)
  • Mouse, keyboard, and other IT appliances
  • Computer tablets
  • Kitchen counters
  • Bathroom counters
  • Faucets and faucet knobs
  • Toilets (seat and handle)
  • Light switches
  • TV remote controls
  • Game controllers

First, clean the surface, then disinfect

When cleaning a surface, it is advised to remove all contaminants like dust, debris, and food stains, with a hand-towel or disposable tissue, lukewarm water, cleaning soap, or spray.

After which you can apply a surface-appropriate disinfectant. The easiest and quickest way to do this is with disinfecting wipes or spray. Just a note to make, cleaning products containing bleach, alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide are the best at killing off germs. Take precautions when using these products as they can easily irritate the skin. Don’t let young children near them either. Homemade products such as vinegar and other natural products are not recommended as they may not be sufficient in completely disinfecting surfaces and objects.

Parents should be truthful

It is imperative that parents listen and empathize with their children’s fears and speak truthfully about the situation in an age-appropriate matter, and put it into context. This means having conversations for facts and feelings to allay fears. Children, as a result, will gain a better sense of control, such as over their personal hygiene.

For parents too, keeping a sense of perspective and sourcing information from credible sources such as the World Health Organization will help stave off anxiety. Avoid referring to social media as information changes by the minute and can often cause users to become severely overwhelmed. The nature of social media is that information spreads instantly and unfortunately, information may not be accurate, in other words, hoax or fake news.

Order your necessities online

Thailand is a hub for many so-called online e-commerce platforms and organizations that aim to make the life of people in Thailand much easier. From food to household items, and water, these online services mean people can stay within the refuge of their own home or place they are living at, and have orders brought to them.

Remember to take precautions and arrange with drivers to leave ordered goods in an open but safe area and avoid contact or stay apart by 1 to 2 meters when checking deliveries.

Stay calm

Given the situation and what they have heard, many people across Thailand have acted on impulse charging to banks, supermarkets, pharmaceutical stores in search of security, supplies, and resources. The problem is that a surge in demand can often make the situation far worse for others. Staying calm and establishing a thoughtful plan will allow the correct steps to be taken.

If you or your family need to go out, it is advised to implement social-distancing, use hand-sanitizer with the correct alcohol content to clean hands, wear a certified face-mask, and avoid gatherings that could spread the infection quicker. Doing these will help give back control but also provide some sense of relief.

The latest on the coronavirus situation in Thailand

Since the start of the outbreak, 57 patients have recovered and discharged home, while 766 are still being treated in hospitals. Within the next few hours, we are expecting these figures to change as symptoms of the virus begin showing in infected individuals.

Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, has imposed a partial shutdown with malls closing down and restaurants and cafes offering take-away services only. Large gatherings have been banned especially in gyms and schools have been closed. The Thai Songkran holiday has been postponed and entertainment, sport, and recreational venues activities have been banned to tackle the spread of Covid-19.

Tourist hotspots like Phuket have enforced a lockdown of all but essential services, similar to Bangkok. Other provinces have also followed suit such as Buriram Khon Kaen to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The whole country is affected by these measures with many companies ordering employees to work from home.

The Thai government is supporting the economy and the population as best as possible whilst giving the health system a chance to combat increasing cases. The Prime Minister of Thailand, Prayuth Chan-o-cha, had also announced on March 24, that his government has declared a state of emergency that grants sweeping powers to enact curfews and limit travel. Further details of the Emergency Decree have yet to be announced.

Does my health insurance cover coronavirus?

As an expat living alone or with a family in Thailand, you will be curious to find out if your health insurance policy covers Covid-19. The best piece of advice we can give here is to check your health insurance policy details, as the answer will be provided within it. Since insurance providers offer a wide range of insurance products and services across the globe, cover options tend to vary. Therefore, policyholders will need to refer to the terms and conditions of their policy or speak to their insurance agent or broker for answers on specific questions.

For expats considering a health insurance cover then it is best to speak to a reputable broker like Pacific Prime Thailand. It is advised not to rush out to buy a policy as terms and conditions, once understood, could reveal a stark reality.

In Thailand, insurance with Covid-19 coverage available on the market can be grouped into two types: lump-sum payment when diagnosed with the virus, and medical bill coverage.

What’s important to note is that although the insurance premium is seemingly affordable, in a range of THB ‎฿99 – 1,250, some buyers may find it is a waste of money to take out the policy, to begin with, given overlapping coverage.

Knong Sripiboolpanich, vice-president of K-Expert under Kasikornbank (KBank), insisted that people should check the existing medical benefits they have before taking out Covid-19 coverage. Certain plans have waiting periods and the limits also vary. Certain exclusions may include pre-existing conditions and recent journeys to countries at high risk.

How Pacific Prime Thailand help?

As one of the world’s leading insurance brokers in the region, Pacific Prime Thailand encourages expats, and their families to first secure private health insurance if they haven’t done so already.

There are a number of plans to consider, like expat health insurance and family insurance, which can be tailored to include many essential add ons such as maternity insurance, pre-existing insurance coverage, and emergency medical evacuation.

For further information, check out the latest from our blog page or refer to our health insurance plan page.

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Content Creator at Pacific Prime Thailand
Jimmy is a content writer who helps simplify insurance for readers interested in international private medical insurance. He is on a mission in Thailand to support locals, expatriates, and businesses by bring the latest news and updates to his Pacific Prime blog articles.

His expert view and wealth of knowledge on insurance can also be found in his blogs for China, Dubai, Hong Kong, and Singapore.