In light of the diminishing threat posed by the Omicron variant of Covid-19, the Public Health Ministry will propose easing curbs on the virus.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said that although the number of new cases linked to Omicron has increased since New Year, the number of people with severe symptoms on ventilators or in intensive care units is low.
Moreover, the number of daily fatalities has not exceeded 20 for a while, he added.
Mr Anutin said that despite Omicron being highly transmissible, the disease was still less severe than Delta.
Based on the positive trend, the Public Health Ministry will request the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) to ease as many containment measures as possible promptly.
However, if there are still threats to public health, the ministry will also propose measures for public safety,” Mr Anutin said. In addition, he said vaccines are crucial for protecting the public from the most severe effects of the virus. Unvaccinated individuals are urged to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Mr Anutin also noted that Pfizer vaccines are now available for children between the ages of 5 and 12. The vaccine supply from Pfizer will be sufficient for children in this age bracket by next month, he said.
Further, he added that the ministry has requested the Government Pharmaceutical Organization to ensure sufficient supplies of favipiravir pills for the treatment of infected patients.
The minister said, “We cannot afford to be complacent or let our guard down. We have to prepare just in case.”
Seven-day quarantine for Omicron
Meanwhile, Dr Kiattiphum Wongrajit, permanent secretary for public health, noted that containment measures have been effective, with severity and fatality rates declining thanks to the public’s cooperation.
Currently, the situation has stabilized, but we should still maintain strict precautions, Dr Kiattiphum said.
During the last 14 days, new cases increased quickly in the first week, but caseloads have since stabilized and are on a downward trend. The number of severe cases continues to decline.
In addition to raising the alert level to Level 4, Kiattiphum advised people to avoid at-risk premises and delay [interprovincial travel] but will reconsider lowering it if the situation eases.
Moreover, the ministry is also considering reducing the 14-day quarantine period for at-risk groups to seven days to enable people to return to their normal lives as quickly as possible.
The infected patient is treated for about 10 days while the quarantine period lasts longer.
Prior to reducing the quarantine period, the ministry is waiting for experts to provide clear measures, he said.