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Surge prompts Level 4 COVID alert

BANGKOK: The Public Health Ministry has raised its COVID-19 alert to Level 4 following a sharp increase in Omicron variant infections nationwide.

By Bangkok Post

Tuesday 22 February 2022, 09:10AM

A boy gets swabbed for a COVID-19 test at Poonsap community in Bangkok’s Sai Mai district yesterday (Feb 21). Out of the 183 people tested, four were infected. Photo: Apichit Jinakul

A boy gets swabbed for a COVID-19 test at Poonsap community in Bangkok’s Sai Mai district yesterday (Feb 21). Out of the 183 people tested, four were infected. Photo: Apichit Jinakul

That said, the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) indicated that no lockdowns will be brought back to bring the current outbreak to an end, reports the Bangkok Post.

Ministry spokesman, Rungrueng Kijphati, posted on Facebook yesterday (Feb 21) that a meeting of the ministry’s Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) decided that the alert level will be raised nationwide and containment measures stepped up in high-risk areas.

The move came as the number of new infections, severe cases and deaths continue to rise, with authorities noting an increasing risk of infection among family members and close acquaintances as a result of taking part in collective activities such as dining out, playing sports, and attending wedding and funeral ceremonies, Dr Rungrueng said.

Individuals from at-risk groups - including the elderly, those with underlying health conditions and the unvaccinated - continue to account for most COVID-related deaths, he added.

Under the new alert, people are encouraged to work from home, avoid non-essential inter-provincial travel, suspend overseas trips, close at-risk venues and avoid large gatherings.

The ministry had raised the alert to Level 4 in some red-zone provinces early last month, when the situation was less severe than now. With the latest announcement, the alert will now apply to all provinces nationwide.

Kiattiphum Wongrajit, permanent secretary for public health, said that the Public Health Ministry wanted to remind the public of the threat posed by the virus.

“We had previously announced [the Level-4 alert], but the public may have forgotten the warning,” Dr Kiattiphum said, adding that if people fail to comply with precautions and the outbreak does not slow, then strict curbs may have to be brought back.

Jakkarat Pittayawong-anont, director of the Department of Disease Control’s epidemiology division, said that throughout the country, infections have been increasing across all groups, particularly among working-age people and children.

Internal - Phuket Live Radio 89.5

He said that the 18 provinces promoted for tourism must be closely monitored. Of them, eight provinces - Bangkok, Chon Buri, Phuket, Kanchanaburi, Krabi, Phangnga, Nonthaburi, and Pathum Thani - have seen case numbers fluctuate, though the trend is still rising.

CCSA spokeswoman, Apisamai Srirangson, yesterday said from tomorrow, the CCSA will focus on the number of deaths and severe cases, rather than the spike in new cases, she said.

Tomorrow’s meeting will consider whether the public health system still has the capacity to deal with the situation and look at measures to speed up economic recovery.

“While the CCSA is unlikely to bring back lockdowns, Thailand still cannot afford to relax virus curbs in the same way as other countries have done. We have to come up with our own approach,” Dr Apisamai said.

She was also trying to allay concerns about the rumoured suspension of the Test & Go scheme, saying the public health system is still sufficiently equipped to handle foreign arrivals who test positive.

Dr Apisamai said the CCSA is still concerned about infection clusters detected among healthcare personnel in several hospitals, such as in Ramathibodi Hospital, Siriraj Hospital, Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital in Chiang Mai, Srinagarind Hospital in Khon Kaen and Betong Hospital in Yala.

When hospital personnel are infected, they will have to be quarantined, which compounds the shortage of personnel looking after patients, she said.

Thailand logged 18,883 new cases and 32 more COVID-19 fatalities over the past 24 hours, the Public Health Ministry reported yesterday.

Bangkok accounted for most new cases with 2,753, followed by Nakhon Si Thammarat (960), Samut Prakan (926), Chon Buri (884), Nonthaburi (852), Phuket (628), Nakhon Ratchasima (563), Rayong (475), Nakhon Pathom (429) and Buri Ram and Pathum Thani (421).

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ThorFinger | 24 February 2022 - 11:46:44

Reality Check - I am a high- risk person and were talking about Omicron, not long covid or Delta. 

Kurt | 24 February 2022 - 10:45:02

Be sure will still discuss 'this' in 2023. Specially in Thailand. Covid-19 handling here is big money making business. Read today in BP that PCR tests, costing in Thailand 2500 - 3000 Baht, are abroad for about 1000 Baht. The useless Thai insurances (age limited) ? Big business. Hospitals, great fill up of empty beds with little medical care. Good earnings too.. A complete new industry.

maverick | 23 February 2022 - 12:30:14

Suggest those that don’t partake stay away from the said party bar on Patong Hill, and let those that do get on with their lives....more spreading going on in temples, mosques and markets, as well as schools that are still open. We need this to spread to blow itself out or we will still be discussing it in2023

Kurt | 23 February 2022 - 11:31:05

Ash Ward, yes. But not only people are different. Also vaccines. People received chinese vaccines didn't get much protection. ( Anutin was quick aware of that). A-Z was for  many people unpleasant sick feeling experience. J&J ( 1 jab) lost quick protection. The least complains you hear from Pfizer vaccinated.  And, almost 5 months after 2nd shot still 76% protection. Blood test confirmed

Ash Ward | 23 February 2022 - 10:15:14

I agree with reality check. My lady had 2 vaccines. Covid made her very sick.
Some people are not affected so much, everybody is different.

Kurt | 23 February 2022 - 10:02:36

@Capricornbal. Yes, I agree with you.Phuket has a tradition of putting the baht before anything else, specially when it concerns tourism matters. Example, thousands of thai salengs around us, not insured. Untouchable, but few tourist electric steps? Oh-oh.  3-4 Thai underaged youngsters on a motorbike, the police wave to them ( kids of neighbors), but a tourist they stop and hand out fine 

Kurt | 23 February 2022 - 09:51:24

As long Thai business people can ignore Thai Covid-19 rules/regulations and overrule Governors and all other Officials, just keep in Patong hill a Party center operational open the way they wish, that long Patong will be the infamous Virus spreader for whole of Phuket. But the Officials do chew with serious faces on 'Test&Go' for tourists. See the difference? 

reality check | 23 February 2022 - 07:58:24

ThorFinger not all people react the same way to the virus so to compare your symptoms to others is meaningless.  If you spread the virus to a high risk person and they died how would you feel?

Ash Ward | 22 February 2022 - 18:50:36

I agree with Kurt. That Party/Bar in Patong Hill is a Covid spreader. So many tourists and locals go there.
Surely that has to be stopped.

Capricornball | 22 February 2022 - 16:47:49

Phuket has got to be considered as a "high risk" area, as a fair amount of visitors are arriving with positive tests, and many of them take no precautions when out and about.  Thai officials have clearly put the baht before health.

ThorFinger | 22 February 2022 - 13:47:34

It's Omicron! The symptoms only last 1-2 days and it's over in 5. The second day of my symptoms I still completed 12 hours on my computer. Stop the panic and just manage the problem. Everyone will get it and it will all be over soon with any luck. 

Kurt | 22 February 2022 - 13:27:24

Here we see a Government panicking! And there is actual nothing they can do. Just give it in hands of Buddha.  With some ceremonies in which Officials are well trained to do. What about the bar/disco/party center in the hills of Patong. Has the Governor already put restrictions in place, or pretend, not to know because the place is owned by a very influencial business man? 

maverick | 22 February 2022 - 09:52:45

Lemmings leaping over a cliff is there no end to this stupidity cases will only start to reduce when virus runs out of places to go.


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