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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

UK variant arrives in Thailand, top virologist warns against unnecessary Songkran travel

Maya Taylor



PHOTO: Luciano Teixeira on Pixabay

“Whatever will be, will be. The reason is, it’s a matter that involves a huge number of people. The government will have to try to cope with that later.” – Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha.

A prominent Thai virologist has confirmed that the so-called UK Covid-19 variant, aka B117, is behind the latest cluster of infections detected at Bangkok nightlife venues, and now potentially spreading out to other provinces. Prof. Yong Poovorawan from Chulalongkorn University warns that this variant is 1.7 times more contagious than the original one and is urging people to avoid unnecessary travel over the Songkran holiday.

“If possible, there should not be any travel or movement right now. If that’s not possible, it is highly necessary to have strict measures to control the disease. Without sufficient intervention taken to curb these high-risk activities (over Songkran), the number of new infections could even reach thousands per day.”

Officials say they are baffled as to how the variant reached the Kingdom, despite strict testing and quarantine protocols. Yong says the government now needs to balance the risk to elderly citizens with measures to stimulate the economy over Songkran.

“The reason is that if there are so many new cases of Covid-19, economic stimulus through promotion of tourism won’t work as nobody would want to travel to an epidemic zone. Visiting older relatives during this festival is good, but it won’t be good if such visits mean spreading the virus to them also.”

However, the Bangkok Post reports that PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says the government will not impose a lockdown over Songkran, insisting that each province can implement its own disease prevention measures. He adds that the government will have to manage any potential fallout after the holiday.

“Whatever will be, will be. The reason is, it’s a matter that involves a huge number of people. The government will have to try to cope with that later. Of course, we can order a new lockdown and make everyone stay home (during the festival). But the question is will anyone be happy with that?”

Meanwhile, Yong is reportedly frustrated at the rate of vaccine rollout, warning of a need to ramp things up as a result of the new infections and the rapidly-spread variant.

“If Thailand can administer 100,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines per day, it will take about 3 years to achieve effective herd immunity against the pandemic, while if up to 300,000 doses are given a day, it will take only 1 year to achieve that goal.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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  1. Avatar

    toby andrews

    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 10:50 am

    All viruses mutate, and in some cases become a weaker variant. Google it.

  2. Avatar


    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 11:24 am

    It is not good to use a country name as the prefix of virus variants.

  3. Avatar


    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 11:36 am

    How take the uk variant of virus to Thailand? All farang need to stay in quarantine so it can’t be one of our.
    Vaccinate 70 % of the population befor talk about tourist come back

  4. Avatar


    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 12:21 pm

    Time to be more responsible Thaiger and stop just blindly copying your sources. The variant was first detected in the UK and no one knows where it originated. It is not called the “UK variant” by epidemiologists or responsible journalists and media outlets.

  5. Avatar


    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 1:40 pm

    Need stop using this name the uk variant. Remember how angry China got when we was all calling this the China virus before the name Covid 19

  6. Avatar


    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 2:06 pm

    There’s no such thing as a UK variant. That’s simply just propaganda misdirection from the virus origin party.

  7. Avatar

    David Mann

    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 2:45 pm

    Hassle. Is it just “Farang” (racist term in my view) you want to quarantine ? What about Myanmar, Cambodia and Lao? Or even Korean and Japanese or Chinese? The use of the term U.K. variant is fine by me, as technically that’s where the first mutation of this type was discovered. However, let’s not forget this is the U.K. variant of the Chinese Virus. You see where this leads to? More racism and hatred. Drop the naming of variants by country and stop racist terms like Farang. Not helpful at all.

  8. Avatar


    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 3:48 pm

    All of them English gents will be speeking try to convince the bar girls I’m not from England no me come from china

  9. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 4:52 pm

    Not just “farang” but everyone, David Mann, even Thais. In Buriram even Thais from other provinces.

    The only problem I have with naming variants after countries is when it makes people think that’s the only place they come from, like the S Africa variant from Africa.

  10. Avatar

    toby andrews

    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 5:12 pm

    Look carefully and see a picture of a Covide contagious person on the sign in the picture above.

  11. Avatar


    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    They should not allow to come people from the uk to Thailand.
    Anyway nobody will miss them here

  12. Avatar


    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 6:29 pm

    Who said the term farang applies only to westerners ? From what I understand it applies to anyone not originally from Thailand. Hence you apply unwillingly your own brand of racism.

    • Avatar


      Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 8:16 pm

      The term ‘farang’ usually refers to caucasian westerners.

  13. Avatar

    David Mann

    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 8:21 pm

    I see they now think the “U.K. variant” arrived from Cambodia ??.
    Ada, why don’t you just close the borders to everyone and be like North Korea. That’s what most Thais have always wanted. Oh, that’s until they are now realising how important foreign tourists are for 12% of your GDP Just need to get a grip buddy. It’s 2021 or 2564 what ever you prefer!

  14. Avatar

    toby andrews

    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 9:44 pm

    Yes we will not miss you in the UK either ada.
    You will not come anyway unless a UK citizen is paying your air ticket.

  15. Avatar

    David Mann

    Friday, April 9, 2021 at 2:57 am

    Anotify, as Thaiger has explained. The term Farang refers to white westerners. Like Gringo in Mexico. So yes, it is a racist term.

  16. Avatar

    Phuket Tony

    Friday, April 9, 2021 at 11:43 am

    We really have to all come together and learn to live with this and stop this hiding and living in FEAR…

    Closing off borders, separating families, and destroying peoples livelihoods is unacceptable and cant go one.. We have all put too much attention into Covid and act like everything here on out should be centered on this…. very sad and very wrong..

  17. Avatar


    Friday, April 9, 2021 at 8:08 pm

    Ada, If I leave Thailand, will you pay my monthly rent to the landlord?
    I guess the answer is no.
    Don’t talk in the name of others who obviously don’t share your point of view and please, keep your small brained racist comments to yourself.

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