The Omicron factor

The Omicron factor

A health official performs an ATK test for a visitor at Khao San Road, following the detection of the first case of the Omicron variant in the country. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)
A health official performs an ATK test for a visitor at Khao San Road, following the detection of the first case of the Omicron variant in the country. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)

Since the new Omicron strain was designated a variant of concern by the World Health Organization on Nov 26, many countries have stopped loosening Covid-19 curbs.

Thailand registered a small number of confirmed Omicron cases, but lower daily infection totals -- less than 5,000 cases per day.

However, the new variant has crushed hopes of restarting economic activities, while the government's response to calls for support from those hit economically by the virus remains half-hearted.

Last month, tour operators prepared outbound package tours for early 2022, but the Omicron variant suddenly hit tourism confidence.

However, after learning that Omicron may not be more dangerous than other variants, especially for those vaccinated, confidence in outbound travel gradually returned.

The chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce said if the spread of Omicron can be controlled, economic activities are expected to recover.

He said with a continued mass vaccination scheme, an Omicron outbreak should produce less damage than occurred with the Delta variant.

Mall operator Siam Piwat said the company is unfazed by the new variant. Customer traffic at its four malls -- Siam Center, Siam Discovery, Siam Paragon and Iconsiam -- has recovered since the country's reopening on Nov 1.

"Even if there are new outbreaks, this will not be new. With the lessons learned the past two years, we are confident we can manage our business," the group's chief executive said.

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Vocabulary

  • concern: interest or worry - ความสนใจ, ความกังวล
  • confidence: the quality of being certain - ความมั่นใจ
  • crush (verb): to destroy somebody's confidence or happiness - ทำให้โศกเศร้า
  • damage (noun): physical harm caused to something which makes it less attractive, useful or valuable - ความเสียหาย
  • factor: a fact or situation which influences the result of something - ปัจจัย
  • half-hearted (adj): without enthusiasm or energy -
  • hope (noun): a belief that something you want will happen; something that you wish for - ความหวัง
  • outbound (adj): travelling towards a particular point, particularly away from a city, country, etc. - ขาออก (opposite of inbound ขาเข้า)
  • recover (verb): to win back a position, level, status, etc. that has been lost - ได้คืน, ได้กลับคืน
  • support: to give help, encouragement or sympathy to somebody - สนับสนุน, เป็นกำลังใจ
  • unfazed: not worried or surprised by something unexpected that happens - ไม่กังวล
  • vaccinate: to give someone a vaccine, usually by injection (putting a liquid, especially a drug, into a person's body using a needle and a syringe), to prevent them from getting a disease - ฉีดวัคซีน
  • variant: a thing that is a slightly different form or type of something else - สิ่งที่ผันแปร, สิ่งที่แตกต่างกัน
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