Government Should Bring Back Covid-19 Measures, Experts Say

Communicable disease experts have recommended that the government reimpose mandatory mask-wearing and other strict disease control measures to prevent Covid-19 sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5 from spreading in the country.

On Tuesday, Professor Dr. Prasit Watanapa, the head of the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital, said Thailand faces the same situation as 110 other nations that currently deal with the most transmissible sub-variants.

Although reports show that BA.4 and BA.5 can cause less severe symptoms, those sub-variants will soon become dominant in the country, Dr. Prasit explained. Therefore, Thai authorities must implement the key Covid-19 measures again since only 42-43% of the country’s residents have received a booster vaccination and there are still unvaccinated people.

“The government should reintroduce stringent control measures, including wearing masks indoors. This is urgent, and we should not wait until there are not enough hospital beds,” he insisted.

Dr. Prasit said the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants may not be as severe as the Covid-19 Delta strain but are more infectious and could mutate if the case toll continues rising.

Meanwhile, Dr. Nithipat Jearakul, head of the Department of Respiratory Diseases and Tuberculosis at Siriraj Hospital, shared a message on his official Facebook account urging all parties to take precautions and measures to prevent a further possible surge in Covid-19 infections in the next three weeks.

In the Monday Facebook post, he wrote that the situation was more intense than last week, as the number of Covid-19 patients had increased.

Dr. Nithipat said that more frontline medical workers have been working twice as long to deal with the surge in patients, adding that many hospitals in the capital and other provinces are in the same condition.

The expert explained that the current situation contrasted with the daily reported cases. “The number of available hospital beds for Covid patients is diminishing fast, while most of the beds for non-Covid patients have been taken,” he went on.

According to Dr. Nithipat, the Covid-19 infections toll should have reached 50,000 late last week, but the figures were released in batches rather than steadily.

The warning comes as the Department of Disease Control’s director-general Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong said that Health and Interior permanent secretaries had ordered national authorities to prepare for a possible increase in coronavirus cases.

“It is a normal preparatory measure. It is better to be prepared. Everyone should be prepared,” Dr. Opas stated.