All arrivals free of new strain, say virus chiefs

All arrivals free of new strain, say virus chiefs

All 1,007 visitors from southern Africa who recently arrived in Thailand have tested negative for Covid-19, the Department of Disease Control said on Sunday.

All remain in isolation under tourism sandbox programmes, which means they are being closely monitored by health authorities, said Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the DDC, as he sought to allay fears yesterday that the Omicron coronavirus variant may be carried into the country by travellers.

The new mutation, which is potentially more transmissible, was first identified in South Africa and has since been detected elsewhere in Africa, in Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Israel, Italy and Hong Kong.

The Department of Medical Sciences has not found a single case of the variant in Thailand, said deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek.

The department is now asking all private hospitals to submit specimens from all patients who test positive for Covid-19 to be genetically sequenced to identify each individual's strain and its prevalence, she said.

The Centre for Medical Genomics of Ramathibodi Hospital, meanwhile, is in the process of developing a test kit for accurately detecting the Omicron variant using a mass array technology, which is expected to be completed in about two weeks.

Prof Dr Nithi Mahanonda, secretary- general of Chulabhorn Royal Academy, meanwhile, urged members of the public to stay calm and wait until clearer information is available.

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