Government considers new restrictions as Omicron infections rise across Thailand

PHOTO: Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration

The Thai government fears a surge of “tens of thousands” of new Covid-19 infections, according to a Reuters report. The report says officials are considering implementing new disease prevention measures such as a ban on alcohol sales in restaurants and limiting large gatherings.

Yesterday, Thailand reported 3,899 new Covid-19 cases, with data showing Omicron infections have tripled compared to last month’s figures. Officials say that without disease prevention measures such as mandatory mask-wearing and regular testing, new cases could reach into the tens of thousands over the coming 2 weeks.

Sumanee Watcharasin from the CCSA says the government will make a decision on new restrictions at a meeting tomorrow. Officials are also expected to discuss the suspension of the Test & Go entry scheme which allowed vaccinated travellers from approved countries to enter Thailand with minimal quarantine.

Rumours about more restrictions have many people nervous, particularly those who’ve suffered the most financially. Kundarat Yutakom who is 60 years of age and runs a shop in Bangkok, says she only just re-opened her business yesterday, after it was shut for 7 months.

“I’m so worried with the situation, but I’m being very cautious.”

Many business operators are concerned about a return to last year’s wave, when infections surged, hospitals were at breaking point, and some people were tragically dying in the streets. Chris Potranandana from the Zendai Foundation, which helped people get medical treatment during the crisis, says the country cannot have a repeat of such scenarios.

“We really need to be prepared so we don’t have a repeat of events of July and August when people were dying on the streets.”

To date, just over 64% of Thailand’s 72 million population has received 2 doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, but fewer than 10% have received a booster. Preliminary data on Omicron indicates that the protection offered by 2 doses drops significantly against the variant but can be adequately boosted with a third dose.

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SOURCE: Reuters

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Maya Taylor

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