Lockdown “unlikely”, PM insists

Lockdown “unlikely”, PM insists

The business world breathes a sigh of relief

New arrivals at Suvarnabhumi airport, the country’s gateway, are directed to a health control zone on Tuesday by officers. The country this week reported its first case of the new variant of Covid-19 Omicron detected in a visiting US citizen. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

Another Covid-19 lockdown is unlikely despite the emergence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha insisted on Tuesday, allaying fears in the business community that their incomes will suffer another blow during high season.

“I hope this new year will be a happy time. We haven’t had this festive happiness for two years because of Covid-19,” Gen Prayut said, sounding a note of optimism after the first case of the highly transmissible strain was confirmed in the kingdom on Monday by a visiting U.S. citizen.

“After all, everything now depends on the effectiveness of the Covid Free Setting and other measures. If there is no further spread of the virus, who will one day shut down or lock down? [activities] again? Nobody would do it, “the prime minister said.

“For now, the requirement that international visitors undergo a Covid-19 RT-PCR test upon arrival in the kingdom is considered by health authorities to be sufficient to detect the new variant and prevent it from spreading here.” , he added.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul said the current vaccination campaign needs to be stepped up to keep people’s immunity high in order to deal with any large-scale spread of Omicron.

People who received their second vaccine in August are urged to be reminded.

General Prayut said the vaccines available in the kingdom can prevent severe symptoms and death.

“The World Health Organization and other experts have indicated that Omicron can be easily transmitted but does not cause severe symptoms. Hopefully this is true,” he said.

Mr Anutin said the government has made it clear to manufacturers that vaccines arriving next year must be able to fight any new strain of the virus.

Once a sufficient number of people are injected, universal prevention measures will be stepped up to mitigate the potential impact of Omicron, which is expected to become the dominant strain of Covid-19 globally.

“The country‘s public health screening and surveillance measures remain strong and effective,” General Prayut said.

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said it was too early to try to estimate Omicron’s impact on Thailand’s hosting of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summits and meetings. related next year.

When asked if the summit’s format is likely to change in the event Omicron triggers a new wave of the pandemic, Mr Don said it was too early to tell.

The 17 people who were in close contact with Thailand’s first Omicron case at the US tourist’s hotel have tested negative for Covid-19, the Department of Disease Control reported on Tuesday.

The latest to be tested was a 44-year-old hotel waiter who served him food on December 1, said Dr Chakkarat Pitayawonganon, director of epidemiology.

The server had already received two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on June 14 and September 3. He served the infected tourist around 9:30 p.m. last Wednesday and made him sign a health document. Both wore face masks.

On Friday, the waiter returned to his home province of Ubon Ratchathani in a private car with five relatives. Health officials tested him there and took him to the Bamrasnaradura Institute of Infectious Diseases in Nonthaburi on Monday.

Tuesday morning, his Covid-19 test was inconclusive. At noon, a new test came back negative. The server will be tested again on December 12 and 13. The condition of his five relatives is also being closely monitored, Dr Chakkarat said.

The 35-year-old American businessman had been living in Spain for a year. He tested negative for Covid-19 in Spain on November 28. On November 29, he flew to Dubai where he reportedly went nine hours without speaking to anyone and was still wearing a face mask.

On November 30, he arrived in Bangkok from Dubai. He traveled alone and sat in a window seat. The seat next to him was empty. Upon arrival, he entered through the Test & Go system for fully vaccinated air passengers. He tested positive the next day.

He remained asymptomatic on Tuesday and will need to be quarantined for 14 days.

Omicron has now been detected in 54 countries, 19 of which have recorded local infections. There have been no confirmed deaths.


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