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Health officials warn of potential Omicron surge after New Year holiday

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration

The Department of Medical Services says Thailand could end up dealing with a surge of Omicron infections after the end-of-year celebrations. Department chief Somsak Akksilp says the public must continue to comply with disease prevention measures to keep the highly contagious variant at bay. He adds that mild symptoms can be treated while patients self-isolate at home.

According to a Bangkok Post report, Somsak says that while the variant may be capable of infecting vaccinated people, vaccines will still protect against serious illness. In addition, new treatments such as the Molnupiravir pill from Merck and Pfizer’s Paxlovid pill have proven effective. Somsak points out that so far, no Omicron patients have required ICU treatment and there has been only 1 death to date. The UK reported its first Omicron-related death earlier this week.

The Bangkok Post reports that Wasun Chantratita from Ramathibodi Hospital has cited recent data that shows that, unlike previous variants, Omicron is capable of using the genomic parts of other variants and combining them with its own genomic sequence. While the variant spreads a lot quicker, preliminary data seems to show that illness is not as severe. However, it’s not yet known what might happen if Omicron combines successfully with genomic sequences from variants such as Delta, Alpha, or Beta.

Wasun says that while cases of the Delta variant are on the decline in Thailand, health officials may use PCR tests to confirm which variant infected patients have. He says Thailand must accelerate the administration of booster vaccine doses to provide people with the maximum protection possible. According to the Bangkok Post report, Thailand now has 11 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant, all of which were imported.

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SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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