Coronavirus (Covid-19)North East

64 Omicron infections in Kalasin yesterday, rapid spread predicted

PHOTO: Kalasin sees an outbreak of Omicron variant infections. (via Asia Travel Gate)

A doctor at Siriraj Hospital believes half of all new Covid-19 infections in January could be the Omicron variant. In Kalasin province, 64 new Omicron infections were found on Christmas Day as a pub and restaurant has seen the rapid spread of the new strain of the virus. A married couple visited on December 12, unaware that they had the Omicron variant, after which health officials have traced the spread to customers and staff of the restaurant.

The couple had been in Belgium and returned back on December 10, when their arrival RT-PCR test returned negative results. They tested positive at a later date and were admitted to a Khon Kaen private hospital on December 18. They’ve been in an isolated ward under strict observation since then.

But Omicron is far more transmissible than previous Covid-19 variants, and soon at least 19 customers, staff, and musicians from the house band have tested positive with infections of the new strain. 45 more customers are still waiting for test results, while the restaurant and pub are closed indefinitely. Authorities are considering closing other venues if the outbreak worsens.

Kalasin had weathered Covid-19 reasonably well, ranked 50th out of 77 provinces for total infections, just over 10,000 infections total this year which is over 10 times less than Chon Buri for example. But the cluster of Omicron infections discovered there could change the Northeastern province’s fate.

The chief of Siriraj Hospital’s Division of Respiratory Disease and Tuberculosis Department said that Thailand should be prepared for daily infection numbers to surge again, perhaps as high as 20,000 as soon as February. He predicts 50% of those infections will be the Omicron variant. Though it would be responsible for driving up the infection rate, the silver lining is that the new variant appears to infect only 2% of people severely, as opposed to previous variants that led to 5% severe infections.

SOURCE: National News Bureau of Thailand

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.