The Department of Disease Control is planning to propose to announce Covid-19 as endemic in Thailand this year after three years of the pandemic.
Dr. Kiattiphum Wongrajit, Permanent Secretary for Public Health Ministry, stated yesterday, January 10th, that the recent wave of the Omicron Covid-19 variant occurred fast and resulted in the rapid increase of domestic infections but mostly caused mild symptoms or asymptomatic reactions and low fatalities.
In Thailand, 48 percent of Omicron cases were asymptomatic, according to the Public Health reports, and most of them only experienced coughs, followed by sore throats and fevers.
The Ministry of Public Health, therefore, proposed to declare the disease as endemic due to three main reasons: 1.) The disease naturally reduces its severity; 2.) The public cooperates in receiving the vaccination, resulting in a good immunity; 3.) Effective management and operations in terms of slowing down the pandemic in the domestic area.
Dr. Kiattiphum said: “The government strategy for 2022 is to slow down the pandemic. The disease itself is not as severe as the first wave. But we are concerned that the rapid spread may overload the capacity of the public health system or may develop a new mutant, so we have to slow down the pandemic and put the medical care and public health measures into effect.”
The proactive approach will be done mainly by Antigen Test Kits (ATK) among high-risk groups/communities. Additionally, if one is initially negative on a rapid test but detected with suspicious symptoms, they will be taken to a hospital for an RT-PCR test immediately.
Meanwhile, Public Health also encouraged the public to receive vaccination as well as follow the VUCA measures (Vaccine, Universal Prevention, Covid Free Setting, and ATK) in order to help the country overcome the pandemic and eventually make the disease endemic.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a statement earlier today asking nations like Spain, the UK, and Thailand to not consider treating Covid-19 like the flu or a cold at this point, stating that Covid-19 was still too “unpredictable” and that it wasn’t the time to scale down or abandon control and mitigation efforts, regardless of potential widespread pandemic fatigue from both governments and the public.
Thai Public Health officials, meanwhile, have said that the proposal is for “some time” this year and not immediately. By announcing the disease as endemic, Thailand would, in theory, focus less on restrictions, widespread mass non-pharmaceutical interventions, testing, and tracking, and move to manage Covid-19 like the flu, dengue fever, or many other diseases with mostly localized measures. TPN notes that the idea is essentially a “proposal” and only time will tell if it takes place.
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