Omicron variant yet to be detected in Thailand; health ministry making preparations

333 international travelers from 8 countries where significant numbers of COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron coronavirus variant are confirmed to have entered Thailand late last month. Authorities have verified the whereabouts of around half of these tourists, but contact still needs to be established with 167 individuals. Meanwhile, no cases of the Omicron variant have so far surfaced in Thailand, with the Ministry of Public Health asserting that it has made preparations for any potential outbreak of the new variant.

Permanent Secretary to the Ministryof Public Health Kiatiphum Wongrajit said 333 people entered Thailand from the African nations of Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe from November 15-27 under the Sandbox scheme as well as quarantine entry pathways. 61 have already left Thailand while 105 have already stayed in the Kingdom for 14 days or more. Of the 167 persons who still need to be traced, recent attempts have been made to reach out to 44 of them. These individuals has yet to test positive for COVID-19.

Dr. Kiatiphum explained that the 333 travelers are considered low-risk, despite having journeyed from areas where the Omicron variant has surfaced. The Sandbox and quarantine pathways carry more restrictions than the Test & Go option, though authorities are re-testing these travelers as a precaution.

Deputy Director-General of the Department of Medical Sciences Nattapong Wongwiwat said his department has prepared treatments and medical supplies in preparation for the possibility of Omicron outbreaks in Thailand. He added that 194,000 beds are currently available nationwide for COVID-19 patients, of which only 28.8% are occupied. At the same time, 388 field hospitals in provinces outside of Bangkok have yet to close, with the bed occupancy rate at only 9.8%.

Source: NNT