Thailand’s health authorities approved on Wednesday a four-step plan to support the country’s transition to the COVID-19 endemic phase by July 1.
Approved at a meeting held by the National Communicable Disease Committee (NCDC), the plan aims to gradually contain the surge of new infections and deaths caused by the latest Omicron variant, and prepare the country to treat the virus as an endemic.
The decision was made to help Thailand’s economy recover from the pandemic as well as protect public health by implementing strict measures accordingly, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told the press after chairing the meeting.
Dr Kiattiphum Wongrajit, the ministry’s permanent secretary, said the national communicable disease committee has agreed with the ministry’s plan that the pandemic designation in the country will end in June.
Under the change, there will be no need for ATK testing for tourists and people will no longer be required to wear facemasks in public, except for those who are sick.
“Social distancing and mask-wearing should only be done in areas of risk or at large gatherings,” Dr Kiattiphum said.
According to health officials, from Saturday to early April, the country will still see a further rise in infections, while from April to May, the number of cases is predicted to remain high but will start to decline.
The third stage, from late May to June, is expected to see a major reduction of daily infections to some 1,000 to 2,000 before the country enters the endemic phase, from July 1 onwards.
Thai officials highlighted that in order to achieve an endemic status, the COVID-19 driven fatality rate must not exceed 0.1 percent. Currently, this rate is close to 0.2 percent.
It was suggested that senior citizens should ensure they are fully vaccinated as fast as possible to reduce the mortality rate, as most of the deaths are among the elderly.
Thailand on Wednesday reported 22,073 new COVID-19 cases and 69 deaths, bringing its total tally to 3.09 million with 23,438 fatalities.
As of Tuesday, around 71.7 percent of the country’s nearly 70 million population had been fully vaccinated, while 30.6 percent had received booster shots.