Thailand to declare Omicron ‘endemic’ this year as nation learns to live with virus


Thailand will ready its population to live with Omicron Covid-19 as an endemic disease this year, a senior health official said on Friday.

Disease Control Department chief Opas Karnkawinpong said the country was slightly ahead of the World Health Organisation and other countries regarding measures to deal with the new Omicron strain.

However, he added that Thailand did not disagree with the WHO’s warning that it is too soon to regard Omicron as an endemic rather than pandemic disease.

“We are simply launching a public awareness campaign on how to prepare and to live with Omicron as endemic disease,” Opas said.

The switch from a pandemic to an endemic occurs when a virus becomes manageable via a high vaccination rate.

Opas said the country will only make the switch when more Thais have immunity and the country can safely live with Omicron.

The Public Health Ministry will monitor the situation closely before picking the right time, he added.

“We expect that if all people cooperate, Omicron will become endemic in Thailand within this year, not today or tomorrow,” Opas said.

Several other major countries have begun talking about treating Omicron as endemic.

Opas cited cross-vaccination and opening the country to foreign tourists as examples of how Thailand was ahead of other countries in dealing with Covid-19.

“Now we are talking about dealing with Omicron as endemic,” he added.