TUESDAY, April 16, 2024

Ministry sets guidelines to relegate Covid-19 from pandemic to endemic

Ministry sets guidelines to relegate Covid-19 from pandemic to endemic

The National Communicable Disease Committee has set guidelines on the designation of Covid-19 as an endemic, hopefully within this year, the top official at the Public Health Ministry said on Thursday.

After prevailing for more than two years, the ministry believes that Covid-19 is now under control, with infections less severe and the situation improving, ministry permanent secretary Dr Kiattiphum Wongrajit said.

The ministry’s national panel, chaired by Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, resolved on Thursday that Thailand must not allow Covid-19 to become an endemic naturally but instead needs to set guidelines for the transformation, Kiattiphum disclosed after the committee’s meeting.

According to the top official, the three major factors for Covid-19 to be designated an endemic are:

️no more than one death per 1,000 cases;

️vaccination of at least 80 per cent of the population for protection against the Omicron variant, and;

️ the health system’s satisfactory efficiency in treating patients.


“We agreed on the guidelines to deal with Covid-19 as an endemic. It will take some time and you can’t tell exactly when,” he said.

“The implementation plan, measures and goal have been set for [Covid-19] to be treated as an endemic. When all the factors are available as required, a declaration will be made. That must be done within 2022,” Dr Kiattiphum said.

When asked if Thailand should wait until the World Health Organization declares Covid-19 an endemic, the permanent secretary responded that the country could make the designation when all the requirements are met.

Asked if people would be required to wear masks when Covid-19 becomes an endemic, Kiattiphum said measures would be announced later. He urged people to get booster shots soon in order to raise their immunity.

An endemic occurs occasionally and can be brought under control despite mutations, he said, adding that it would be similar to regular cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever and influenza.