CCSA Postpones Plan To Downgrade COVID-19 Status to Endemic

Health officials have deferred the plan to downgrade Covid-19 for at least another week amid concerns about the new subvariants.

The government had announced that Covid-19 would go from a pandemic to an endemic disease starting in July.

The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) was due to meet on Friday to decide whether downgrading the disease to an endemic category is feasible.

However, the meeting was postponed for another week, as health authorities decided to closely monitor the most transmissible new subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 and the country’s situation after restrictions were lifted, the head of CCSA’s operations Gen Supote Malaniyom explained.

The Public Health Ministry started monitoring the two highly infectious sub-variants after 181 cases were reported on June 24.

Experts say the subvariants can be harmful to health. Therefore, infections need to be closely watched, especially as the country has lifted stricter travel controls.

Gen Supote, who is also the National Security Council secretary-general, stated that communicable disease specialists feared that the current number of patients with lung infections could be related to the two mutated variants.

According to the latest reports from health authorities, the number of seriously ill patients has gradually increased. On Friday, 690 people with severe symptoms were reported, 89 more cases than Thursday.

Thailand has removed the requirement for the Thailand Pass and Covid-19 insurance. Now, travelers arriving in the country do not have to go through the pre-registration process or purchase insurance covering coronavirus diseases for at least $10,000, as was previously required.

However, visitors who have not received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine must take a PRO-ATK or RT-PCR test at least 72 hours before traveling to Thailand and test negative.

The Thai Civil Aviation Authority has advised air travelers on all flights to the kingdom to follow prevention measures such as mask-wearing.

But health officials fear that lifting key travel restrictions could result in a spike in cases linked to the new subvariants. On Friday, the country logged 16 coronavirus-related deaths and 2,354 new infections.