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Has Omicron Peaked? Daily Cases Drop, Deaths Hit 4th Wave Record

Omicron Variant Coronavirus Covid-19

Daily coronavirus cases dropped significantly while deaths hit a new omicron-wave high, an indication the latest Covid-19 outbreak in Thailand may have peaked.

One day does not make a trend and Tuesday typically sees the reporting of fewer new coronavirus cases than any other day of the week, but the drop in new cases, both confirmed and antigen test-found, gave some hope that the latest wave powered by the coronavirus omicron variant might be reaching its zenith.

The Public Health Ministry today reported 38,565 new Covid-19 cases, 18,943 which were confirmed with RT-PCR tests and 19,677 from antigen tests. The tally for both types of tests were markedly lower than yesterday and the past two weeks, when daily numbers hovered just under 50,000. The testing positivity rate, however, remained a worrying 27%.

New deaths reported hit 69, the most during the omicron wave and another steady jump in daily numbers.

Deaths typically lag cases by about two weeks, so they will continue to rise, possible to 150 a day according to the ministry, even if cases continue to decline.

No one in government has claimed yet that omicron has peaked, with health officials repeatedly predicting new daily cases could hit 50,000-100,000 by mid-April.

Dr. Chakrarat Pittayawonganont, epidemiology director for the Department of Disease Control, said the high deaths resulted from daily new Covid-19 caseloads of more than 20,000 from early February and 95% of new fatalities were vulnerable and elderly people, especially bedridden people.

Chakrarat said that only 30% of elderly people were vaccinated against Covid-19 although the government intended to inoculate 70% of them.

Officials concerned were ordered to speed up inoculation for elderly people and unvaccinated elderly people would have to take full precautions when younger relatives return home during the Songkran festival, he said.

However, Chakrarat said the Covid-19 fatality rate related to the omicron variant was relatively lower than about 300 fatalities a day during the past outbreaks of the delta variant in August.

As such, the Cabinet today is considering a proposal from Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul to limit emergency care for Covid-19 only to moderate and serious cases. Slightly ill “green-coded” patients will be treated as outpatients or do home quarantine.

Anutin said that he would propose that seriously ill patients receive free treatment services under the Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients program and slightly ill patients could seek treatment as outpatients or do home isolation and receive the medications that suited their symptoms.

Anutin said there were still 60,000-70,000 calls to the 1330 hotline of the National Health Security Office a day. He said the government would increase communication channels for the hotline to meet the demand.

The Thailand News Agency contributed to this report.