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Thailand joins countries hit by all five Covid variants

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A woman receives a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine on December 15, as Thailand speeds up its rollout of booster shots. AFP

Thailand joins countries hit by all five Covid variants

Thailand is among 49 countries that have been hit by the five Covid-19 variants of concern, namely Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Omicron, a Chulalongkorn University lecturer has said to the media.

Citing the World Health Organisation Weekly Epidemiological Update, Faculty of Medicine lecturer Thira Woratanarat said on December 26 that Omicron alone has spread to 113 countries.

As of December 24, Omicron has made the infection rate in the UK, France and Italy surge by 3.7, 4.94 and 2.64 times respectively compared to the same period last year.

Thira said the number of Omicron cases in Thailand is expected to rise as this variant spreads 4.1 per cent faster than Delta and only has a three-day incubation period. The vaccines provide little or no protection, he cautioned.

“What we need to do now is administer mRNA booster shots and people should protect themselves by wearing facemasks, maintaining at least a metre’s distance and avoiding gatherings.”

Thira added that strictly adhering to preventive measures is the only way Thailand can keep its Covid-19 infections manageable.

Most of the 200 or so Omicron patients in Thailand have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic, but infections are expected to jump soon.

Chief of Siriraj Hospital’s Department of Respiratory Disease and Tuberculosis Nithipat Jearakul said on December 25 that as of December 19, some three per cent of Covid-19 cases had been tracked down to Omicron.

However, he said, though Omicron cases in Thailand account for just three per cent of total Covid-19 cases, the number will soon start surging, especially at the beginning of 2022.

He said the daily number of new patients may peak at 10,000 to 20,000, but the number of severe cases will be around two per cent or 200 to 400, which the medical sector can cope with.

However, he said, this forecast is only an estimate and will depend very much on how the situation is controlled during the New Year break.

The doctor said treatment for Omicron patients is the same as those affected by other variants.

Though most Omicron patients develop mild symptoms, all hospitals in Bangkok are prepared for an influx of cases. Siriraj Hospital, meanwhile, does not have any Omicron patients.

THE NATION (THAILAND)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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