Thailand’s First Omicron Case: Residents Urged To Be Calm

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has called on Thais to remain calm after the first case of the Covid-19 variant Omicron was discovered in the country.

Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said General Prayut had urged the public not to panic but to remain on guard and get vaccinated to prevent the new and potentially more contagious variant from spreading.

The government has not considered tightening current Covid-19 restrictions. However, authorities will closely monitor variant Omicron infections detected in Thailand, the spokesman added.

Mr. Thanakorn also said the prime minister had full confidence in the country’s tracking and detection systems. He added that the first Omicron case to arrive in Thailand -a 33-year-old American businessman who traveled from Dubai on Nov. 30- was quickly detected and isolated to contain the virus.

Meanwhile, Interior Permanent Secretary Suthipong Chulacharoen ordered the governors of Yala, Songkhla, Narathiwat, Satun and Pattani to step up border controls to prevent migrants from entering the country illegally from Malaysia, where the new variant is reportedly spreading.

The national government called on provincial authorities to take action against human trafficking gangs and those who provide shelter to illegal immigrants, Mr. Thanakorn went on. Advertising campaigns will also be intensified to urge the unvaccinated to get jabbed.

The first Omicron case in Thailand was reported on Monday. Department of Disease Control’s Director-General Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong told a press conference: “This first confirmed case of Omicron variant is a 35-year-old man who is a U.S. citizen who lived in Spain for a year.”

Dr. Opas said health authorities had started testing more people who had been in contact with the man, who had not developed severe symptoms, but all were considered low-risk.

The Omicron infection confirmed yesterday makes Thailand the 47th country to have detected the new and potentially more contagious Covid-19 variant.

According to Dr. Opas, the government has also limited travel from other African countries and started monitoring all international arrivals for more potential cases. In early December, Thai authorities banned travel from eight African countries amid concerns about the Omicron variant.

Nations with current restrictions include Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini, Malawi, Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.

Meanwhile, Thailand logged 4,000 new Covid-19 infections and 22 new deaths on Monday, bringing the national case toll to over 2.1 million cases.