Thai officials say no cause for concern as 4 cases of Hong Kong sub-variant reported

FILE PHOTO: Facebook/ศูนย์ข้อมูล COVID-19

The Public Health Ministry says there’s no cause for concern after the BA2.2 Omicron sub-variant was reported in 4 Covid-19 patients in the kingdom. According to a Bangkok Post report, the patients are 3 Thai nationals and a foreigner. The BA2.2 sub-variant was first discovered in Hong Kong, which is battling its worst Covid-19 wave since the start of the pandemic and currently has the world’s highest death rate. Most of the deaths are occurring in the elderly population and the unvaccinated.

Here in Thailand, Supakit Sirilak from the Department of Medical Sciences says the vast majority of infections are still the Omicron BA.2 subvariant. He adds that 99.7% of over 2,000 samples sent for genomic sequencing are of the Omicron variant. Case of the BA.2 sub-variant have increased from 52% to 68%, while BA.1 make up 32% infections. In a new development, 4 cases are thought to be the new BA2.2 sub-variant first reported in Hong Kong.

Supakit says the information has been sent to the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data, which has yet to confirm the strain as a new variant. He adds that all 4 patients had mild symptoms and they have since made a full recovery. As yet, he says there is no cause for concern.

“There is no need to panic as there are no worrying signs. But we have to be vigilant and answer 3 questions – does it spread more quickly? Will it cause more deaths and can it evade our efforts to boost immunity?”

Supakit says it’s too early to say if BA2.2 is behind the increase in deaths in Hong Kong. He points out that with a huge surge in infections, it’s likely there will be more fatalities, due to the pressure on the healthcare system.

“The Omicron strain is highly transmissible, so when the public health system is unable to cope with the surge, it may result in more deaths.”

The deputy director-general of the Department of Medical Services agrees. Banlang Uppapong points out that other factors need to be considered when looking at the situation in Hong Kong, such as its low vaccination rate and the fact that deaths are primarily in the unvaccinated and the elderly.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Maya Taylor

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