By John Vibes
Tourists visiting Thailand will soon be tracked with a new “Smart Band” for COVID contact tracing, according to a recent report from The Pattaya News, a trusted news source in South East Asia.
The measure was recently approved by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-O’Cha, and the development is being overseen by Thailand’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Society. The agency will be collaborating with multiple Thailand-based startup companies on the new device and its operation.
This month, foreign tourists were authorized to enter Thailand for the first time since the pandemic began under the Special Tourist Visa program. The incoming tourists will face intense contact tracing, which includes the smart device.
The Smart Band device will track the locations of tourists and measure the body’s temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. If the tourist has a body temperature above 37.5 degrees Celsius, nearby medial officials will be alerted about the tourist’s conditions and whereabouts.
The wristband can also help the tourists if they are in trouble or need medical care. It will also let them know where nearby quarantine sites are and give them directions to other locations, such as hospitals or the local police.
The device is still in development, but once it is complete, select tourists will be asked to participate in a trial run to test out the technology. The tourists will be traveling under a Special Tourists Visa (STV), and the program is expected to start sometime this month. The announcement about the device did not specify if there would be any costs to the tourists, or how long they would need to wear it.
The pandemic has heavily disrupted the country’s economy, of which tourism is a significant sector. The International Monetary Fund has predicted Thailand’s GDP to shrink by 6.7 percent in 2020, which is a revision from a previously estimated increase of 2.5%.