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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Daily COVID cases could exceed 100,000 by the Songkran holiday

The Department of Disease Control (DDC) has warned that daily COVID-19 cases in Thailand could exceed 100,000 by the Songkran holiday in April under the worst-case scenario.

The DDC noted that whether the infection level decreases or increases in the coming weeks depends on how strictly safety precautions are followed. The agency also urged the public to avoid group activities, work from home, postpone unnecessary travel, maintain high immunization rates, and follow VUCA (Vaccine, Universal Prevention, COVID-Free Setting, and ATK) procedures.

The DDC said the most optimistic scenario would be for precautions to be fully enforced, which would keep daily infections at around 20,000 by the middle of this month. In a less hopeful forecast, it said daily cases would top 50,000 until the Songkran festival. In the worst-case scenario, daily infection rates could easily hit 100,000 by mid-April.

Public Health Permanent Secretary Dr. Kiattibhoom Vongrachit explained that the increase in new COVID-19 cases in all parts of Thailand also would mean an increase in patients with pneumonia, in those who require ventilators and deaths. Most of the fatalities are still among the elderly, those with underlying diseases and the unvaccinated.

Currently, 59% of all hospital beds are occupied, most of them are being used to accommodate mild and asymptomatic cases, while hospital beds for moderate and severe cases are only 20% occupied.

Director-General of the Disease Control Department Dr. Opart Karnkawinpong, said that Omicron is currently the dominant COVID-19 variant in Thailand. He also recommended these three measures to protect against COVID-19:

• Vaccination, particularly with booster shots, as it will help reduce the number of severe cases and deaths.
• Personal prevention, such as wearing face masks, washing hands frequently, maintaining a distance from others and avoiding crowded areas.
• If you have been in close contact with a COVID-19 infected person, self-isolate for 7 days, test yourself with rapid antigen tests on the 5th or 6th day. If you test negative you can go outside, but should avoid meeting others, going to public places and using public transport for another 3 days.

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