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Thailand prepares to transition to an endemic phase by July 1

Caitlin Ashworth

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Photo courtesy of PR Bangkok (January 2022)

Thailand plans to declare Covid-19 an endemic by July 1 and has laid out a plan to focus on reducing infection rates and coronavirus-related deaths by swift and accessible medical treatment, as well as by accelerating the rollout of booster dose vaccines, particularly to the elderly.

During a press briefing today, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha Covid-19 said Covid-19 is still a pandemic and relevant departments have been ordered to closely monitor the Omicron sub-variant BA.2.2, which was recently detected in Thailand. The prime minister said there needs to be careful consideration and evaluation before transitioning to an endemic phase.

To prepare for the transition to an endemic, the Thai government has laid out phases, starting with the “Combatting Stage” from now until early April, according to a spokesperson at today’s Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration press briefing.

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From April to May, Thai officials say it will be the “Plateau Stage,” with hopes that the number of new Covid-19 infections will remain steady, with no spikes in infection rates. The last stage would be the “Declining Stage,” with a drop in infection and death rates, before going into the “Post-Pandemic Stage” where Covid-19 is considered an endemic.

The spokesperson says treatment for Covid-19 patients needs to be swift and accessible to hit a fatality rate of 0.1% or lower. He added that booster vaccine doses will need to hit 60% of the population, with a high percentage of the elderly inoculated with the third dose.

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“From the first of July onward, hopefully, and if all goes well and the numbers and situation go as planned, we hope that we will be transitioning into an endemic.”

The next month will also be critical in determining how the plan moves forward as Songkran, the Thai New Year from April 13 to 15, has posed a risk for Covid-19 transmission as many go home to visit families and participate in water splashing activities. The Thai government has decided to ban the massive water fights that Thailand has become internationally known for as a precaution to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

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    Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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