Govt staff to WFH next week

Govt staff to WFH next week

Private sector urged to follow their lead

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, left, conducts breathalyser tests on railway staff at Hua Lamphong station on Tuesday as part of the ministry's campaign for safer journeys during the New Year holiday exodus. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, left, conducts breathalyser tests on railway staff at Hua Lamphong station on Tuesday as part of the ministry's campaign for safer journeys during the New Year holiday exodus. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

Government officials will work from home after New Year while online classes may be brought back as part of efforts to contain the outbreak of the Omicron coronavirus variant, says the Public Health Ministry.

The private sector is also being encouraged to follow suit by encouraging staff to work from home.

Speaking before a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Deputy Public Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha said the ministry submitted scenarios on the Omicron outbreak to the cabinet.

Even though patients infected with the new strain have no severe symptoms, efforts must be made to contain the spread of Omicron and keep new cases to a minimum to avoid impacts on the country's reopening, he said.

"The ministry has a policy for government officials to work from home after New Year to prevent the spread of the virus. On Jan 4, the first working day after the holiday, we will take another look.

"The government has led efforts to take precautions against Covid-19 and it will be best if the private sector follows suit," Mr Sathit said.

Mr Sathit admitted the spread of Omicron will be hard to avoid during the New Year countdown parties which involve large gatherings. "If everyone cooperates and the number of new cases after New Year does not jump, measures should be eased further," Mr Sathit said.

However, he expressed concern about children aged below 12 who have not yet been vaccinated and could be at risk of getting infected.

In light of this, the ministry has told hospitals under the supervision of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to prepare for new cases detected among children, Mr Sathit said.

For those who have severe symptoms, private hospitals will also be asked to look after them, the deputy minister said.

"We will look at factors which could lead to infections before we can decide if school children will continue to study online," Mr Sathit added.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) is expected to come up with details after the assessment of the Omicron situation on Jan 4, a Government House source said.

Meanwhile, the northeastern province of Kalasin logged 54 new Covid-19 cases over the past 24 hours as local officials conducted mass testing to contain infection clusters.

Kalasin's Covid-19 situation centre reported on Tuesday that the 54 new cases included 24 cases linked with infection clusters.

Fifteen cases originated from the cluster at the Rong See market in Muang district, seven from a vacation group in Na Mon district, one from a concert in tambon Phu Por of Muang district and the other from Ban Nong Huling village of tambon Bua Khao in Kuchinarai district.

The province had accumulated 10,607 Covid-19 cases, 10,248 of whom fully recovered. On Monday, 286 patients were at hospitals and 19 fully recovered and were discharged.

A big cluster in Kalasin resulted from an infected Thai couple who returned from Belgium on Dec 10 and tested negative for Covid-19 upon arrival. Later they were confirmed with the Omicron variant.

Officials conducted mass testing at Kalasinpittayasan School in Muang district on Tuesday. Mass testing locations were also set for the next two days at shopping centres and markets.

Apichai Limanont, Kalasin's public health doctor, said that a total of 173 new cases linked with the couple were reported in Kalasin as of Tuesday.

Of the 173 infections, 66 cases were confirmed to be Omicron and the rest are pending confirmation, Dr Apichai said, citing the test results from the Department of Medical Sciences.

Thailand logged 2,305 new cases and 32 more Covid-19 fatalities registered during the previous 24 hours, the Public Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

There were 2,251 cases in the general population and 54 among prison inmates. This compared with 18 coronavirus-related fatalities and 2,437 new cases reported on Monday morning.

Bangkok had 392 new cases, followed by 214 in Chon Buri, 143 in Nakhon Si Thammarat, 76 in Samut Prakan, 67 in Chiang Mai, 54 in Kalasin, 52 in Trang, 49 in Nakhon Ratchasima, 48 in Phatthalung and 44 in Ubon Ratchathani.

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