Health crisis looms as Songkran ends: Expert warns of potential Covid-19 spread

Picture courtsey of Somjit Jaichuen

As the Songkran Festival wraps up, public health expert Dr Thira Woratanarat expressed concerns about the potential spread of the Omicron subvariant XBB.1.16. The subvariant is thought to be responsible for a recent increase in Covid-19 cases in India.

Dr Thira, a lecturer at the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University, referred to the rising number of Covid-19 infections among actors, actresses, celebrities, and politicians as a reminder of the ongoing threat the virus poses. The expert emphasised that the risk of transmission is particularly high during Songkran when people take part in water-based activities and travel to visit family members. He said…

“I must express my gratitude to those in the entertainment and media industries for raising awareness about the continuing risk of Covid-19 infection.”

Actor Natthawut “Poh” Sakidjai shared his recent Covid diagnosis on social media and warned others about the persisting risk of the virus, noting that some individuals have become less cautious in their preventative measures, Bangkok Post reported.

The actor detailed his experience with severe symptoms such as a sore throat and coughing up blood, which led to his hospital admission and eventual positive test result. This marks his first encounter with Covid since the pandemic began. Natthawut said.

“Covid-19 continues to linger, and the rate of new infections remains high. I am particularly worried about the health of older individuals who may not be aware of the danger of contracting the virus during Songkran bathing rituals.”

Mongkolkit Suksintharanon, a listed MP and leader of the Thai Civilized Party, is another high-profile figure who contracted Covid and has spoken out about the potential risks involved. The politician, similarly experiencing his first infection, posted a picture of his swollen face as a stark visual reminder.

Dr Thira highlighted that on a single day, 58,903 new Covid cases were reported worldwide, with 313 deaths. Countries such as South Korea, France, Japan, Russia, and Mexico are currently experiencing the highest daily increases in new cases.

According to data from the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Omicron XBB subvariant is responsible for up to 97% of new Covid infections. The XBB.1.16 subvariant, in particular, is rapidly gaining attention among the international scientific community.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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