Is Thailand really ready to shift Convid-19 to endemic status?
Though Covid-19 infections and deaths are surging in Thailand and the authorities have put the country under the highest alert level, the government is still hoping to declare the virus endemic by July.
The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) announced alert level 4 on February 21, but came up with a roadmap for declaring the virus endemic last week.
Dr Chakrarat Pittayawonganon, director of the Bureau of Epidemiology, said that the Omicron sub-variant BA.2 is to blame for the surge in infections.
He said this sub-variant is as severe as BA.1 and 1.4 times more easily transmissible. Most Covid-19 patients in Thailand have contracted BA.2, he said, adding that this number is likely to rise during Songkran holidays due to close contact in families and communities, with the elderly and people with chronic conditions most at risk.
He also said that an analysis of the number of cases during the week of February 13-19 showed that for every 100,000 people in provinces, at least 100 had contracted Covid-19.
On February 21, 32 people had succumbed to Covid-19, most of whom were elderly or people with chronic disease. Of the victims, 60 per cent were unvaccinated, while the rest had not received a booster.
On Tuesday, the number of deaths surged to 83, with 21,382 confirmed new infections.
Hence, it may not be advisable for the government to rush into downgrading Covid-19 as an endemic disease any time soon.