Image copyright Chris Packham Image caption Chris Packham is one of many UK wildlife experts calling for the ban to be lifted
Tourists travelling to Thailand will no longer have to be quarantined if they’re vaccinated against rabies, the Thai government has said.
On 1 February, the Thai authorities banned vaccinations on short-term travellers to the kingdom.
Several animal conservationists and veterinarians argued that patients should not be tested as a precaution to stop the spread of rabies.
However, Thailand’s Prime Minister Pheu Thai, has now said he will lift the ban on vaccinations.
All animals are required to be vaccinated against rabies on entry to Thailand, but children are exempt for a certain period before their first trip to the country.
Rabies is a contagious and potentially fatal disease caused by the rabies virus.
Symptoms include high fever, chills, muscle pain, headache, nausea, and vomiting. In extreme cases, rabies can prove fatal and is preventable with vaccination.
The Thai government has maintained its ban on vaccinating most tourists, in order to allow sufficient time for the virus to pass.
Image copyright Chris Packham Image caption Packham has campaigned for the ban to be lifted
In a statement published on Thai state media, the Ministry of Health acknowledged that the quarantine would have negative health repercussions for vulnerable groups, but has now decided to lift the ban on vaccinations.
“Therefore, it is suggested that the quarantine on all patients coming from abroad will be shortened from one month to one day,” the statement said.
LNP, the prime minister’s office, said that it will issue instructions to the public on the issue to protect its health.
The Redemptorist Veterinary and Animal Welfare College in Bangkok has welcomed the change, but said that two days of quarantine is still not enough time for medical teams to properly assess rabies patients.
“It is time to phase out this quarantine,” said student chief executive Dr Theerawat Buensidao, according to Bangkok Post newspaper.
The Department of Public Health will continue to bar foreigners with the disease from travelling to Thailand.
Christopher Packham, the renowned wildlife journalist and wildlife expert, was among those who spoke out in support of the ban, calling the current system ineffective.
His second book Wildlife Defenders was illustrated by his three children, who he taught to fight wildlife crime.
He also spearheaded protests when hunting elephants for sport was banned in Thailand in 1997.