Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said today (Monday) that the ministry will closely monitor and assess the COVID-19 situation over the two weeks following the Songkran holiday, to determine whether the existing measures need to be adjusted.
He said that it is normal for people to get infected during the long Songkran holidays, because of the extensive travel and the increased chance of close contact with others, but he hopes that most will be safe if they were fully inoculated and the anticipated infection surge will not exceed the capacity of the health system.
Senior health experts predicted, before Songkran, that new infections after the holidays would surge to between 50,000 and 100,000 cases per day (in both RT-PCR and rapid antigen tests). They also expressed concern over elderly people and those suffering from underlying diseases, many of whom are not vaccinated or have not received booster shots.
Anutin confirmed that there are sufficient supplies of anti-viral medicines, especially Favipiravir, to meet the anticipated increase in demand, especially among people at high risk.
He insisted that those in home isolation do not need Favipiravir.
The minister said that the measures, to be proposed to the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) by the Public Health Ministry this Friday, will cover all aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic in a way which will allow the economy and the people to move on without increasing the risk of mass infections.
Further easing of travel restrictions for tourists will also be proposed, he added.
As for the reclassification of COVID-19 as an endemic disease, Anutin said that no exact timeframe has been set, despite an initial plan of making the disease endemic by July, saying it will depend on the number of people who are fully inoculated and the readiness for the country to cope with the situation.
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 Information Centre reported 124 new deaths and 16,994 new confirmed infections today (Monday), compared to yesterday’s 128 fatalities and 17,775 infections.
The new infections include 16,918 locally-acquired cases and 76 among overseas arrivals. 205,514 patients are still being treated, including 2,123 cases of lung inflammation.
The cumulative death toll this year is 5,308. The death toll since the virus was first identified in Thailand is 27,006.