Omicron subvariant circulating in China already swept through Thailand: virologist


There is no need to fear that it is easier to contract Covid-19 from Chinese tourists than visitors from other countries, Chulalongkorn University’s top virologist said on Thursday.

Dr Yong Poovorawan said the main Covid-19 subvariant circulating in China, BA.5, had previously circulated in Thailand.

"Chinese tourists [infected with Covid-19] who visit Thailand will spread an Omicron suvariant that previously spread in Thailand," he wrote on Facebook

Two subvariants of the virus – Omicron BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 – that are dominant in both the United States and Europe have not been found in Thailand yet, Yong said.

The dominant subvariant in Thailand now is BA.2.75, the virologist explained.

He also pointed out that Thailand, like many other countries, conducts genetic decoding of Covid-19 variants at a central data centre, allowing researchers to study mutations.

"Preventing the spread of Covid-19 by restricting Chinese tourists from visiting Thailand is not the way to curb the spread of the virus,” Yong said.

About 96% of Thailand’s population has immunity against Covid-19 from vaccines and/or infections, he said, adding that the majority of people in the country have immunity against Omicron.

"One-third of children in Thailand could be infected with Covid-19 and be asymptomatic," he added.

The number of Covid-19 patients in Thailand is declining and this number will fall further in the hot season before rising again in June when the rainy season commences, Yong said.

He expects annual vaccination drives before the rainy season begins, especially among those most vulnerable to Coviod-19.

"Covid-19 will become a seasonal disease," he said. Consequently, people have to pay attention to their health and follow Covid-19 prevention protocols.

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