Government health officials approve plan to make Covid endemic in Thailand by July

FILE PHOTO: Thai Embassy

The Public Health Ministry’s plan to make Covid-19 endemic in Thailand by July 1 has been given the green light. The plan was approved yesterday by the National Communicable Disease Committee, giving Thailand under 4 months to downgrade the virus from pandemic status.

According to health minister Anutin Charnvirakul, Thailand is adopting a policy of safeguarding the health of both citizens and the economy simultaneously, similar to what’s being done in several other countries. He says that in order for the virus to be classified as endemic, a number of measures need to be implemented in the coming months. These include vaccination, medical treatment for infected patients, Covid screening and monitoring measures, disease prevention measures, and travel restrictions.

Thai PBS World reports that Anutin says life should continue as normal despite the existence of such measures. The health minister has also stated that even if the virus is given endemic status, the wearing of face masks may still be required, along with avoiding mass gatherings, hand-washing, antigen testing, and vaccination.

Dr. Kiattibhoom Vongrachit from the health ministry says the journey to endemic status will take place in 4 stages. The first is between now and April and consists of suppressing the virus to reduce the risk of severe cases. The second stage will be during April and May, when infections are expected to plateau and then decline. During stage 3, in May and June, daily new infections should drop to between 1,000 and 2,000. Finally, from July 1, or stage 4, Thailand will enter the post-pandemic phase, with Covid-19 classified as endemic. The health ministry says the virus will be considered endemic once the death rate is less than 1 in 1,000 patients, or 0.1%. Thailand’s current death rate is between 0.19% and 0.2%.

Meanwhile, Anutin says there are still around 2 million elderly people who have not even received the first dose of a Covid vaccine. This population will be particularly vulnerable if visited by younger relatives over the Songkran holiday. To address the problem, public health volunteers are being dispatched to visit elderly people in rural areas to persuade them to get vaccinated.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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