Healthy people in Thailand no longer need face masks: top virologist


Leading virologist Dr Yong Poovorawan says it is no longer necessary for healthy people in Thailand to wear face masks given the high level of Covid-19 immunity.

"After three years of the pandemic, 50 million people have been infected. Eighty percent of citizens have received second booster doses and 40% have had a third dose, resulting in Covid-19 immunity among 96% of the population," Yong wrote on Facebook.

He noted that official rules on face-mask wearing have relaxed as the pandemic has receded.

Yong said young children, including kindergarteners and elementary school students, may now remove their face masks in school and return to normal learning.

“However, hygiene in schools must be stressed, including handwashing habits, cleaning and ventilation, and keeping sick children out of the classroom," he added.

He also advised adults with respiratory illnesses to keep wearing masks when they venture outside.

And although face masks are unnecessary for healthy people in outdoor places such as streets, parks and beaches, they should still be worn on public transport and in crowded areas, he said.

Healthy people in Thailand no longer need face masks: top virologist

"As wearing a face mask is no longer mandatory, everyone needs to decide by themselves whether to use one as we enter ‘new normal’ circumstances.”

In a previous post on Monday, Yong cautioned that Thailand needs to keep watch for the highly transmissible XBB.1.5 and BQ.1.1 strains as more tourists arrive from Western countries where they are spreading fast.

He said these strains are of more concern than the BA.5.2 that is driving China’s Covid-19 outbreak, as BA.5.2 is already present in Thailand.

"BA.5.2 is not worrisome as Thailand has already faced it. Instead, the XBB.1.5 and BQ.1.1 subvariants from the US and Europe are concerning."

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