Thailand aims to declare Covid-19 an endemic in four months

The decision is based on findings that the new Covid-19 strain was less virulent, although the number of new cases was increasing fast.

The Nation

The Nation



February 25, 2022

BANGKOK – Dr Kiartiphum Wongrachit, the ministry’s permanent secretary, said the goal is to make the change in four months.

Kiartiphum said he had learned from epidemiologists that the new Covid-19 strain was less virulent, although the number of new cases was increasing fast.

“The new strain spreads fast so the number of people with inflammation of lung tissue rose in proportion with the rising cases,” Kiartiphum said. “But the ratio of Covid-19 patients, who had died or who had lung inflammation, had dropped compared to previous waves of the pandemic.”

Kiartiphum said the Public Health Ministry would later announce its management plan for dealing with Covid-19 as endemic.

The permanent secretary said more than 90 per cent of people who had been infected with the Omicron variant were asymptomatic, so the Public Health Ministry plans to increase the ratio of people in home isolation from 60 per cent at present to 90 per cent, compared to Covid-19 patients in hospitals.

He said when more people enter the home isolation treatment programme, hospitals will have more capability to take care of patients with other diseases.

“The Public Health Ministry will later adjust the number of days for taking care of infected people and for quarantining people at high risk,” Kiartiphum added.

He said the Public Health Ministry will continue to allow people with severe symptoms to receive treatment at any hospital as emergency cases, but people with mild symptoms can receive treatment from the hospitals under the Gold Card universal healthcare, the Social Security System or government officials’ healthcare system.

Kiartiphum said most of the Covid-19 fatalities were elderly people with comorbidities or pregnant women, especially those who have not been vaccinated or not been fully vaccinated.

As a result, the Public Health Ministry will coordinate with the Interior Ministry to check household registration to search for the elderly who have not received a booster dose to administer the third dose to them as soon as possible and reduce deaths. He added that only about 30 per cent of the elderly have received the third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Dr Rungruang Kijphati, chief adviser and a spokesman for the Public Health Ministry, said the rate of fatalities and people with severe symptoms was 10 times lower than what had happened during the Delta variant crisis. He said if 60 to 70 per cent of the elderly got the third jab, the fatalities could drop by 50 per cent from the current 30 to 40 deaths a day.

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