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Thailand Expecting 10,000-30,000 Daily Omicron Cases by Late Jan.

Coronavirus Covid-19 Omicron Variant

The Public Health raised Thailand’s Covid-19 alert to Level 3 amid rising omicron coronavirus infections, while warning that new daily cases could reach as much as 30,000 in early 2022 unless strict measures are taken to curb the spread.

Dr. Kiattiphum Wongrajit, the ministry’s permanent secretary, said at a Monday news briefing that the the alert level was raised after new omicron cases surged from 104 Dec. 22 to 514 on Dec 27.

The ministry has also calculated three possible epidemiological scenarios for the Covid-19 situation next year.

For the best-case scenario, Kiattiphum said the number of new daily infections could average around 10,000 as early as late January.

The second-best scenario, which calls for a moderate level of control, would see 15,000-16,000 new daily cases over roughly the same period.

For the worst-case scenario, in which no additional precautions are taken against the highly transmissible variant, the number of new daily cases would reach as high as 30,000.

Kiattiphum said the fatality rate would increase to 170-180 daily deaths in the worst-case scenario. However, that figure could fall to around 60-70 daily deaths given more stringent measures and accelerated vaccine rollouts.

Projections provided at the briefing showed daily omicron cases peaking in late January or early February in the best and second-best scenarios, with the outbreak being brought under control within one or two months.

For the worst-case scenario, new cases would peak in early March before seeing a decline, with health authorities taking three to four months to bring the situation under control.

The permanent secretary also noted that while the ministry did not expect the fatality rate to be as high as for the delta variant, the highly infectious nature of the omicron strain meant vulnerable groups should quickly get vaccinated.

Of the 514 confirmed omicron cases in Thailand, around 90% were asymptomatic or exhibited mild symptoms.

Kiattiphum also assured that there would be sufficient beds and medical supplies to deal with new infections, with 170,000 hospital beds and 15 million favipiravir pills currently available.

Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control, meanwhile, said the alert was raised to Level 3 in order to enable authorities to step up prevention, detection and control efforts.

He added that air-conditioned restaurants must ensure their staff are fully vaccinated and take regular antigen tests, while cautioning that the New Year’s period is likely to see a rise in new cases due to the increased movement of people during the holidays.

Opas also advised offices to maintain work-from-home approaches to limit the spread of infection.