COVID-19 Hospital Admissions Rise As BA.4 and BA.5 Sub-Variants Spread

Experts predict that Thailand could see an increase in Covid-19 cases in the coming weeks as Omicron’s highly transmissible BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants spread across the kingdom.

The latest estimates suggest that the actual Covid-19 infections toll is ten times higher than the currently recorded daily figures. Also, the number of Covid-19 patients admitted to Siriraj Hospital for treatment has increased.

However, the number of those developing severe Covid-19 symptoms is not rising, Prasit Watanapa, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj, explained.

Most patients seek treatment for pre-existing chronic conditions. However, as Covid-19 testing is a mandatory requirement, many were found to have also caught the disease.

Mr. Prasit said the surge in cases was a concern, as Omicron’s highly transmissible sub-variant BA.4 and BA.5 have spread.

”A clearer picture of how the BA.4 and BA.5 spreading situation in the country will be observed in the next couple of weeks, even though the strains have been spreading in Europe for several months already,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Siriraj hospital is preparing to serve a larger number of new Covid-19 patients as the bed occupancy rate increases.

According to Mr. Prasit, the coronavirus spread could intensify now that Thailand has fully reopened to international visitors. Therefore, specialists in communicable diseases recommend that people, especially those at risk, receive regular booster shots against Covid-19.

The elderly and people with underlying health conditions should get a booster jab every four months, he added.

A recent study by the Public Health Ministry found that a third booster shot reduces the risk of infection by up to 30%, while a fourth booster shot reduces the risk by 70-75%.

Other measures to protect against all coronavirus sub-variants are mask-wearing, social distancing, and frequent hand washing. Long Covid is real and can affect any patient, Mr. Prasit warned.

However, the expert clarifies that the chances of BA.4 and BA.5 resulting in a new Covid-19 wave, as happened with the Delta variant, are low since vaccination coverage is high.

Meanwhile, the clinical virologist at the Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics, Dr. Yong Poovorawan, said that the number of child patients infected with Covid-19 had increased but explained that the contagion situation seems to coincide with the regular flu season.