Fear cases may hit 20k a day
New cases of Covid-19 could jump to 20,000 a day by the end of the month unless precautionary measures are taken seriously, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) said on Monday.
Sumanee Wacharasint, assistant spokeswoman for the CCSA, said that the current situation corresponds with an earlier prediction made by the Public Health Ministry that daily cases may surge to 20,000 by the end of this January, and 30,000 by the end of next month.
Regarding earlier forecasts of a higher fatality rate, the CCSA spokeswoman said that deaths are still low due to large numbers of people having now been vaccinated.
Citing information from the Department of Medical Sciences, she said that 5,397 cases of the Omicron variant had been confirmed in 71 provinces on Sunday.
The Delta strain accounts for the most infections (64.71%), followed by Omicron (35.17%), she said.
However, from Jan 2-8, Omicron accounted for 70.3% of all infections, said Dr Sumanee, also head of the bureau of risk communication and health behaviour development under the Department of Disease Control (DDC).
Dr Kiattiphum Wongrajit, permanent secretary for the Public Health Ministry, agreed that most infections this month have been Omicron.
“Even though new cases are high, deaths are low. This suggests that the new strain is highly transmissible but less severe,” Dr Kiattiphum said.
He said that the Public Health Ministry had previously come up with three possible scenarios in light of the new threat posed by the Omicron variant.
In the best-case scenario, the country would see about 10,000 new infections, with fatalities hovering between 60-70 a day as early as late January, according to the ministry.
In the second scenario, authorities would be registering 15,000-16,000 new cases per day.
In the worst-case scenario, in which no added precautions are taken, or if the public refuses to comply with disease control measures, new infections could hit 30,000 daily, with 170-180 deaths per day.
According to the ministry, new infections would peak in late January or early February in the best and second-best scenarios.
At best, the outbreak would be brought under control in one or two months, although authorities had played out a situation where the infection rate would take a little longer to stabilise.
In the bleakest forecast, new infections would not peak until early March and it would then take a further three to four months for health authorities to control the situation, according to the ministry.
However, Dr Kiattiphum said he believed the Omicron outbreak will be brought under control within two months, with new cases predicted to decline gradually before Covid-19 is finally downgraded to endemic status in about a year.
“The situation can be brought under control if all those involved cooperate,” Dr Kiattiphum said, adding that the ministry is taking measures to flatten the curve of infections.
He added that at present there are 20-60 fatalities per day which is well below the 180 predicted in earlier outlooks.
Dr Somsak Akksilp, director-general of the Department of Medical Services, said that bed occupancy has surged from 11 to 22% from December to January after the New Year holiday. There are around 180,000 beds countrywide.
However, he said the good news is that most hospital beds are occupied by patients with mild symptoms, while many beds are still available for moderate and severe cases.
“If possible, patients have been urged to self-isolate at home or stay at community isolation facilities for 10 days. We need to reserve beds for patients in at-risk groups,’’ he said.
He said that home isolation is not far removed from hospital care, as medicines, food and other necessary items are delivered to homes, and patients remain closely monitored using telemedicine.
Thailand logged 7,926 new cases and 13 more Covid-19 fatalities during the previous 24 hours, the Public Health Ministry said on Monday.
Chon Buri had 767 new cases, followed by 693 in Samut Prakan, 534 in Bangkok, 513 in Phuket, 383 in Ubon Ratchathani, 261 in Nonthaburi, 227 in Nakhon Si Thammarat, 203 in Khon Kaen, 200 in Chiang Mai and 182 in Udon Thani.