Omicron-only by month's end

Omicron-only by month's end

Health workers take down details of foreign crews of fishing boats, in preparation for giving them Covid-19 vaccinations, at Fish Marketing Organisation pier in Phuket province on Thursday. (Photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran)
Health workers take down details of foreign crews of fishing boats, in preparation for giving them Covid-19 vaccinations, at Fish Marketing Organisation pier in Phuket province on Thursday. (Photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran)

The Omicron variant is spreading rapidly and is likely to be cause of almost all local Covid-19 infections by the end of this month, according to the Department of Medical Sciences.

From Jan 11 to 17, Omicron was found in 97% of infected arrivals from overseas sampled for thorough checks, and 80% of local cases, with the Delta variant accounting for the rest, department director Supakit Sirilak said on Friday.

"By the end of this month, 97 to 98% of local cases will be of Omicron, and Delta will eventually disappear," Dr Supakit said.

He added, "We will have to live with Omicron. If it is not so severe, it will finally be easier to handle. Please get the third shot of vaccine because it will help reduce the spread of Omicron as well as the severity and the number of fatalities."

Thailand had logged 10,721 Omicron cases since Nov 1, as of midnight and including imported infections.

Bangkok had the most cases at 4,178, followed by 837 in Chon Buri, 434 in Phuket, 355 in Roi Et, 329 in Samut Prakan, 319 in Surat Thani, 301 in Kalasin, 217 in Udon Thani and 214 each in Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen.

Omicron infections had been found in all 77 provinces, Dr Supakit said.

From Jan 11 to 17, Omicron infections formed 86.8% of all Covid-19 cases sampled for variant analysis and 80.4% of local cases, with Delta forming most of the rest.

Among the fatalities and severely ill patients, Omicron accounted for 67.2% and Delta 32.8%.

"Of the severe and fatal cases, Omicron coverage was less than its average percentage in all cases, but Delta almost doubled its 15% average. This confirms that Omicron is quite clearly less severe than Delta," Dr Supakit said.

Only in the far South did Omicron and Delta variants have approximately equal shares of Covid-19 cases, because there were few entertainment places, infections did not enter significantly from Malaysia and arrivals did not travel locally, he said.

However, Omicron would eventually be dominant in the region.

Dr Supakit also said that Omicron caused re-infection in all sampled cases, showing that previous immunity did not prevent it.

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