Public Health Ministry gets ready to deal with new Covid wave

MONDAY, APRIL 17, 2023

The Public Health Ministry on Monday announced measures to deal with a new wave of Covid infections expected to be sparked as people return from Songkran celebrations.

Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, the ministry’s permanent secretary, said many people joined Songkran parties in crowded places without taking steps to protect themselves. Hence, he said, the Public Health Ministry expects a high number of Covid patients once the holiday period is over.

People who partied in crowded places should monitor themselves for seven days and stay away from elderly or ill relatives. They should also take rapid antigen (ATK) tests if they are feeling unwell.

He advised people to protect themselves with the following steps:

• Get Covid-19 booster shots. Vulnerable people should take both influenza and Covid booster shots every year to protect themselves.

• Always wear a face mask in public places and if near elderly people or patients, such as in hospitals and elderly shelters.

• Take ATK tests if there is any sign of respiratory problems.

Public Health Ministry gets ready to deal with new Covid wave

Opas also announced four measures for public health personnel, namely:

• Boosting public awareness campaigns on the necessity of taking annual Covid-19 and influenza jabs.

• Getting hospitals to have medicines and beds ready to cope with the expected surge of new Covid cases.

• Monitoring Covid cases and related deaths in provinces. Samples should also be taken from those who have succumbed to the virus for RT-PCR DNA sampling at the Medical Sciences Department. The backgrounds of those who succumbed should also be investigated and reported to the ministry within 24 hours.

• Investigating and tracing the source of the infection if patients die or develop severe symptoms.

The World Health Organisation has designated a new Covid-19 subvariant, XBB.1.16 or Arcturus, as a “variant under monitoring”. The variant was first detected in January and has now been documented in 29 countries. It is a subvariant of the Omicron variant, which emerged in 2021 and replaced Delta as the dominant variant worldwide.