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PM: No Plans for New Restrictions; All Tests for Omicron Contacts Negative

Coronavirus Covid-19 Omicron Variant

Thailand has no plans to reinstate restrictions on society or the economy in light of the omicron coronavirus variant, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha assured Tuesday.

Prayut said the Public Health Ministry has confirmed that Thailand’s disease-prevention capabilities are can handle the new variant and vacines in use in Thailand also are effective at preventing and mitigating symptoms.

The PM noted that disease-control measures in use remain the same, with RT-PCR tests required for all international arrivals and a short hotel quarantine period still required as the arriving travelers wait for their test results.

It’s notable Prayut has given up the pretense that Thailand has quarantine-free entry.

The prime minister added that the new coronavirus variant has yet to trigger consequences on a global scale. Meanwhile, the continual decline in new infection numbers in Thailand is proof that vaccination is effective, although the premier is urging people to continue to observe disease prevention guidelines.

Thailand on Wednesday reported 3,618 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 38 deaths, the second consecutive day under 4,000 since June.

Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul also chimed in, saying screening measures for international arrivals remain rigorous. He added that that passengers coming to Thailand must present evidence of a negative RT-PCR test prior to boarding their flights and possess evidence of vaccination for Covid-19. Upon arrival in Thailand, the passengers must stay at an authorized hotel for one night as they wait for the result of their test.

The minister explained that any infections found in the arriving passengers can be controlled and the patients sent for treatment, as these individuals have remained contained within the prevention system since their arrival. The strain of the coronavirus in each patient will also be verified.

Close to 20 people have been asked to get tested for Covid-19 in response to the detection of the omicron variant in an American traveler who entered Thailand from Spain. Contrary to rumors, Anutin confirmed all results so far have been negative.

Dr. Chakrarat Pittayawonganon, director of the Division of Epidemiology, Department of Disease Control, said profiling of the omicron patient has yielded 19 individuals who had contact with the patient, albeit all of them being deemed at low risk of having contracted the coronavirus.

Two instances of contact were in Suvarnabhumi Airport while 17 occurred at the SHA+ hotel where the patient was staying to wait for the on-arrival RT-PCR test result. Of the 17 persons at the hotel, 16 had negative test results but one was away from the hotel on the test day.

The person, a staffer at the hotel restaurant, had left for Ubon Ratchathani and was contacted by health officials to come in for testing. The result of the first RT-PCR test on this individual was inconclusive, prompting another sample collection which then produce a negative result upon testing. Nonetheless, individuals who have had close contact with the restaurant worker have now been placed in isolation as a precaution.

Meanwhile, the omicron variant patient still has not displayed any symptoms. He remains under quarantine in a healthcare facility and must complete 14 days of isolation, counting from his Nov. 30 date of arrival in Thailand. After the 14 days, health officials will continue to contact the man on a daily basis to inquire about his condition.

Chakrarat said there are positive signs the Omicron variant does not result in severe symptoms, which means there is now a heightened possibility of the variant developing into an endemic disease.

Anutin said it is unlikely that Thailand will be able to avoid the spread of the omicron variant, but noted that the important matter is to prepare well.

He said vaccination will reduce the severity of symptoms and the number of deaths, adding that no lockdowns are planned as the country has only recently reopened and he did not want businesses and people to panic.

The omicron variant has now been detected in 54 countries globally and domestic transmissions have been confirmed in 19 countries. No critical patients or deaths have been reported among the Omicron variant patients.