Thailand plans to declare Covid-19 endemic earlier than expected

Thailand’s Covid-19 situation is continually improving and is expected to be declared an endemic disease more than half a month earlier than expected, according to the Ministry of Public Health.

The ministry originally planned to declare Covid-19 an an endemic disease on July 1 this year. Yesterday, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary Kiatiphum Wongrajit announced that Thailand now plans to declare the disease as endemic more than two weeks earlier than expected, sometime in mid-June.

The ministry said the Covid-19 situation in Thailand is continually improving. The Omicron strain is less virulent that the common flu, most infected people have no symptoms or flu-like symptoms, and vaccination rates have continued to increase, cited Kiatiphum.

What does endemic mean?

An endemic disease is a disease which is limited to a certain area and spreads in a predictable way. There are four criteria for a disease to be declared as endemic…

  1. No more than 10,000 new cases per day
  2. Mortality rate of no more than 1 in 1,000
  3. Immunity built in society through vaccines: at least 80% of high-risk groups received at least two doses
  4. Efficient medical treatment in place

What will change when Thailand declares Covid-19 as endemic?

It is not yet entirely clear how entering the ‘endemic’ phase will impact daily life in Thailand. However, there are two certain changes:

  • The Thai authorities will no longer have the power to quarantine anyone coming into the kingdom.
  • Daily case numbers are no longer required to be reported. However, daily Covid-19 cases admitted to hospitals will still be recorded.

Long Covid

The Department of Medicine has prepared guidelines for preliminary assessments of diagnosing cases of ‘Long Covid’ and set up a system to track Long Covid cases. Hospitals across the nation will continue to track and collect data about Long Covid symptoms. Provincial public health doctors and directors of hospitals will have monthly meetings to discuss how to tackle Long Covid and move forward in the same direction.

By declaring Covid-19 as endemic, Thailand’s population will find ways to return to living within close proximity of each other and find ways to coexist with the disease. However, if new variants emerge, the Ministry of Public Health could reconsider their classification of Covid-19 again.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has stated that even when Covid-19 is declared as endemic, people will still be required to wear a mask in public places as before.

SOURCE: KhaoSod, BangkokBizNews

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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