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Public Health Ministry to curb the latest coronavirus outbreak

The Public Health Ministry will on Friday propose tougher government measures to curb the latest coronavirus outbreak posed by a rapid increase of Omicron infections.

The proposal, which is up for consideration by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), includes tightening the quarantine system and banning alcohol consumption in restaurants.

Anutin Charnvirakul, deputy prime minister and public health minister, said his ministry has stepped up measures to fight the outbreak.

The CCSA will be asked to ban alcohol consumption — which is considered a risk factor in the spread of the virus — in areas with severe infections and review outbreak zoning based on a colour-coded system to identify provinces hit by the latest outbreak, he said.

Moreover, all returnees and arrivals from abroad will be quarantined, the minister said.

“We will not wait seven to 10 days for an actual number of infections to emerge after the festive holiday [before taking action],” Mr Anutin said.

“However, the number of deaths will be low due to large numbers of people already getting vaccinated,” he added. “We will evaluate the situation before making a decision on whether to shutter some activities.”

The Public Health Ministry decided to raise the nation’s Covid-19 alert level from 3 to 4 after new coronavirus infections jumped to 5,775 over the previous 24 hours yesterday from 3,899 the day before.

Kiattiphum Wongrajit, permanent secretary for public health, said raising the warning level encourages people to work from home, suspend travel plans, close at-risk areas and limit the number of people at gatherings.

“We are seeing a fast outbreak this time,” he said. “There are several provinces that have (multiple new daily cases), including 769 cases in Chon Buri and 454 in Bangkok.”

“So we do need to raise the warning to level 4,” Dr Kiattiphum said.

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