Dr. Taweesin explains the situation after the Post-pandemic period set on July 1, when small waves could follow. Credit: CCSA

Thailand could face small waves of Covid-19 infection that can pass ”a trigger point” if careless: CCSA

The public is urged to adhere to protection measures including mask-wearing and vaccination to help ensure that the outbreak is under control so Thailand can move towards the endemic period

The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has revealed the latest scenarios of the infection in the country, under which small waves of the infection can be expected over the next few months following the continuing rise of cases due to the subvariants of BA.4 and BA.5. They could pass the so-called ”trigger point”, under which the infection can bring hospitalisation cases up to the point that it can turn the situation to be more severe with daily hospitalisation cases over 4,000 and daily deaths beyond 40.

”We ever reached the numbers of the cases in the red box (8,001-10,000/ over 80), but we have now seen the numbers far declining (2,000/ 20) and we wish to see them standing below 2,000. But if there are small waves, the numbers of cases could climb up towards the yellow to orange boxes (4,000-8,000/ over 40-80). So, we need good planning as well as good protection against the disease,” said Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin, the CCSA’s spokesperson during the press briefing.

The CCSA held its 10th meeting of this year yesterday and it was chaired by PM Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, who instructed concerned authorities to inform the public to adhere to personal protection measures including the mask-wearing, which is no longer mandatory since the CCSA’s latest order on June 23 as a preparation for the Post-pandemic period set on July 1.

Still, the public was recommended to wear masks to prevent themselves in crowded and enclosed settings before this was reiterated at the meeting.

Under the scenarios, small waves could reach their peaks around September, when the country could see daily infection cases close to 40,000 with total Universal Prevention measures including 100% mask-wearing, and towards 80,000 without UPs.

The CCSA has conceded that the number of daily infection cases as of yesterday stood over 29,000 (Out Patient Self Isolation (OPSI), but it was not officially reported on the CCSA’s board. Dr. Taweesin said the number reported on the board was that of hospitalisation cases or in-patient cases, which stood at 2,144.

The daily infection cases have already surpassed the peak during the 5th wave of Omicron early this year, which stood at over 28,000 in early April. The CCSA’s reporting has been criticised by several noted doctors who recommended that the government should tell the public ”the truth” so that they can be aware of the situation and prepare themselves better against the disease.

Dr. Taweesin said the CCSA agreed that the public should also have an opportunity to learn about this fact too so that they can be aware of the situation as such. It is actually reported on the Department of Disease Control’s board every day, he claimed. He did not say further whether it will also be reported on the CCSA’s board.

The reporting of the number of daily infection cases on the CCSA’s board was shifted to that of hospitalisation cases unnoticed for some time since the government declared to move the country towards the so-called Post-pandemic period scheduled on July 1. The Endemic period was also toyed with, but the government stopped short to declare it after the infections rose again recently due to the subvariants of BA.4 and BA.5.

According to the Medical Sciences Department, BA.4 and BA.5 this week have already taken up the infection in the country by over 50%, from 44% in the past week and just around six per cent in the week before. They are expected to take over BA.2 soon due to their faster rate of infection, according to the Department’s chief, Dr. Supakit Sirilak. However, he said there is no confirmation on their severity yet, and more studies are needed.

The most concerned issue at this point is the rise of new severe cases and those with lung infections. As of yesterday, the number of these patients stood at 763, rising from 602 recorded on June 25. Dr. Taweesin said there are enough beds to receive the patients at this point. Altogether, there are over 103, 798 hospital beds to receive Covid-19 patients nationwide, while 11,627 patients have so far been occupying the beds.

Dr. Taweesin said the Public Health Ministry proposed at the meeting the plan and goals for ”Moving to Covid-19 Endemic” in the next phase so that Thai society can live with Covid-19 and transition from the pandemic to the endemic period safely. The CCSA had acknowledged these but did not endorse or approve them yet.

The plan will cover specific measures for related sectors including the economy, public health, society and organisations. UP and Covid-free Setting as well as over 60% vaccination of booster doses, for instance, will still be critical instances for implementation. All of these are aimed at allowing ”Thai people to be safe, the economy to be strong, and the country to be strong.”

Under the ministry’s criteria, the endemic should see daily hospitalisation cases less than 2,000, severe cases less than five per cent, and a daily death rate below 0.1% or less than 40 deaths a day, The deadline of the plan is not announced.

So far, Thailand has lifted almost all strict disease control zoning, leaving only the Green zone or areas under surveillance nationwide. All activities including alcohol drinking and entertainment venues can resume as almost normal with certain disease control measures required including Covid-free Setting. The Covid-19 alert level is still maintained at Level 2, meaning people are not barred from all activities as well as crowded and enclosed settings, while protection measures are recommended.