Thailand’s health geniuses believe dragging out the coronavirus pandemic by trying to slow the spread of the unstoppable omicron variant will help make Covid-19 an endemic disease by the end of the year.
Rather than let omicron – with its lower propensity to cause serious illness – burn quickly through a majority-vaccinated population and imbue a degree of immunity, the Public Health Ministry said Monday it would rather continue the futile effort to slow the coronavirus’ spread through restrictions on business and society that, at this point, are causing more harm than the virus.
Ministry Permanent Secretary Kiatiphum Wongrajit said Monday that Thailand planned to co-exist with Covid-19 in order to allow its economy to progress. But talk is cheap and the government’s actions have contradicted the stated goal of “living with Covid”.
Now the plan is to “manage” the omicron wave in a way that enables Covid-19 to transition into an endemic disease.
Department of Medical Sciences Director-General Supakit Sirilak said, at present, Covid-19 is not causing severe symptoms but transmissions are occurring more rapidly.
This necessitates a shift of the disease-screening method from the time-consuming and expensive RT-PCR test to antigen test kits in order for resources to be better utilized. Besides, PCR tests may not even detect omicron.
Supakit added that billions of baht have been spent by the National Health Security Office on RT-PCR tests.
The director-general explained that from now on, individuals suspected of being infected will be tested via ATK and placed into home or community isolation if they test positive and display mild or no symptoms.
If symptoms increase, an RT-PCR test will be used and the individuals will enter the treatment system.
Those testing negative but with a history of exposure to the virus are to self-quarantine and take an antigen test every three days, or two days after the latest test if symptoms increase.
The unreliable, often Chinese-made test kits, have become the latest tool to keep the population down, and yet another windfall for Thailand’s corrupt Royal Thai Police.
In addition to keeping large bars and nightlife businesses closed as Thailand drags out the pandemic, the government continues to limit operational hours and, now, is using mandatory tests with the unreliable ATKs to kill business.
Pattaya’s “restaurants” selling alcohol now cannot be entered without taking a test, even a customer took one the day – or an hour – before somewhere else. Home tests no longer are accepted because police claimed customers were “faking” results.
The test mandate is now spreading across Bangkok. Popular expat and tourist bar, er “restaurant”, areas on Khao San Road, Soi Cowboy and Sukhumvit sois 4 and 7 now are requiring or “suggesting” antigen tests supplied by local corrupt cops in the Thonglor and Lumpini districts.
Lumpini bar owners crying foul Monday, pointing to how business cratered on Soi Cowboy after tests became required there, were flat out told by bent cops that they “needed a way to make money on these tests”, which now cost customers 100 baht a pop.
Thonglor police are charging 120 baht a test for Soi Cowboy.