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Thailand’s Public Health Ministry has announced it will declare Covid-19 an endemic disease by the end of 2022, based on its own criteria, with or without World Health Organization approval.
On Thursday, Kiattiphum Wongrajit, the ministry’s permanent secretary for health, announced the intention.
According to Dr Kiattiphum, the committee intends to declare Covid-19 endemic before the end of the year using its own academically acceptable criteria.
The acceptable criteria for declaring covid-19 a pandemic will be: the number of new cases can not exceed 10,000 per day, the mortality rate cannot exceed 0.1%, and more than 80% of those at risk have received two doses of vaccine, he said.
Public Health Ministry officials were of the opinion that Covid-19 had spread over the past two years, but recent trends indicated the virus had been under control and was not too severe at the time.
Dr Kiattiphum said that although the disease could spread, the fatality rate is acceptable. There can be waves of the disease. However, people must have adequate immunity. They must be immunized, and treatment systems must be effective.
“After the criteria have been met for a while, Thailand will declare this disease endemic. As soon as the conditions are met and the situation looks promising, the ministry will announce its decision” he said.
The permanent secretary for health promised to spearhead the efforts for an announcement as soon as possible. It is better to go this route than to wait for the disease to naturally become endemic by itself or until the WHO declares it as an endemic disease. That would take too long, he said.
Following the declaration of Covid-19 as endemic, the government would treat patients according to their individual needs, and may require everyone or only patients to wear masks, Dr Kiattiphum explained.
COVID-19 will become endemic in Thailand
Presently, the National Communicable Disease Committee requires everyone in Thailand to wear a face mask in public places. Offenders can be fined up to 20,000 baht
He said that the details of the criteria and the appropriate future measures have yet to be finalized.
One of the most misunderstood terms related to the pandemic is endemic. Many of the erroneous assumptions made allow for a false sense of complacency. That doesn’t necessarily mean COVID-19 will come to an end.
The expectation that COVID-19 will become endemic in Thailand essentially implies that the pandemic won’t end with the virus disappearing; instead, it is believed that enough people will gain immune protection from vaccinations and from natural infection.
Above all, resulting in fewer transmissions and significantly lower COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths, despite the virus’s continued spread.