DDC keeping close eye on Omicron after UK reports first death


The Department of Disease Control (DDC) is continuing to follow the Omicron situation closely after the first death related to the new Covid-19 variant was reported in the United Kingdom, DDC Epidemiology Bureau chief Dr Jakrat Phittayawong-anon said on Tuesday.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that at least one person had died in the country after contracting Omicron, the first publicly confirmed death globally from the swiftly spreading strain.

According to Reuters, Britain gave no details on the death, other than that the person had been diagnosed in hospital. It was not clear if the patient had been vaccinated or had underlying health issues.

“We still need to collect more data regarding the Omicron variant as the samples of cases are still low,” said Jakrat. “However, it is a Covid-19 variant just like Alpha and Delta that we already know about. The differences between these variants might include the speed at which it spreads, the severity of symptoms and the mortality rate.”

Jakrat said the DDC has been keeping a close eye on Omicron since it was first discovered in late November overseas and subsequently in Thailand, with the first case reported on December 3 – a foreigner who arrived from Spain.

As of Tuesday, eight Omicron cases have been confirmed in Thailand, half of them Thais while the others are two Americans, one British and one Belarusian national.

“We are following the latest updates both globally and domestically and are prepared to increase disease control measures accordingly,” he said.

“In the meantime, Thailand will continue to use strict screening measures for all foreign visitors. If they are found to be infected, they will be immediately tested to determine which variant they are carrying,” he added.