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650 African Arrivals Found; 0 Test Positive for Omicron

More than 60 percent of foreigners who arrived in Thailand last month from eight African countries where the coronavirus omicron variant is spreading have been found, with all testing negative for Covid-19.

Immigration Bureau deputy commander Maj. Gen. Achayon Kraithong said Sunday that 150 of 248 people being traced since their arrivals all were healthy.

Authorities still are trying to track down another 98 people, who are here both as for leisure and family purposes, he said.

In addition to the 248 who arrived from eight nations that since have been placed on a restricted list, another 500 foreigners who arrived from other African countries also have been contacted and retested, with no Covid-19 cases found.

The results shouldn’t be surprising given that travelers must take RT-PCR tests 72 hours before flying and within 24 hours after arriving. In most cases, travelers also are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

While Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said Friday that no omicron cases had been detected anywhere in Thailand, an advisor to the Department of Disease Control said it’s only a matter of time until it does.

Dr. Tawee Chotepitayasunon, a consultant for the Department of Medical Services, said Friday existing entry restrictions from the eight African countries will only delay omicron’s eventual arrival.

Thailand must speed up vaccination of the more than 10  million eligible adults and teenagers who have yet to receive even a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. Unvaccinated people could develop severe symptoms, he warned.

Medications could be administered to help infected people. However, officials concerned were monitoring outbreaks of the new variant.

If transmission is quick but symptoms are milder, the disease can become endemic, Tawee said. What was already clear was that the Omicron variant spread fast, he said.