Anutin: Time to 'move on', declare Covid-19 endemic

Anutin: Time to 'move on', declare Covid-19 endemic

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, centre, announces it is time to
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, centre, announces it is time to "move on" from Covid-19, during a "meet the press" at the Miracle Grand Convention Hotel in Bangkok on Wednesday. He is flanked by Dr Kiattiphum Wongrajit, left, permanent secretary, and Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control. (Screenshot)

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul on Wednesday declared his ministry's determination to "move on", to downgrade Covid-19 to an endemic disease and allow people to return to a normal life, but did not give a definite time frame.

The public health minister was speaking at a "meet the press" session in the presence of senior ministry officials, including public health permanent secretary Kiatiphum Wongrajit.

Mr Anutin said the Covid-19 situation had continued to improve with the number of daily infections dropping below 3,000 and fatalities below 30 over the past few weeks, thanks to the people's compliance with the ministry's health guidelines.

The Public Health Ministry had worked hard to educate the people about how to protect themselves against the virus and to persuade them to get vaccinated. 

The ministry was determined to work toward downgrading Covid-19 to an endemic disease, he said, but did not say when that would be.

"To be endemic does not mean that the disease is no longer serious. The disease will be with us throughout our lifetime. We have to know how to stay safe and avoid all infection risks," Mr Anutin said.

"There are still many people who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19, so the campaign for people to get inoculated will continue, to reduce the loss of lives, especially those in high-risk groups. Mask-wearing, hand-washing and social distancing are still necessary," he said.

He said it was not necessary for the ministry to declare when people can go out without wearing a face mask. He would rather leave that up to individuals to decide at their own discretion.

He read out a message to all health inspectors and personnel, asking them to be fully prepared in terms of medical treatment, hospital beds, medical supplies and equipment and vaccines and show people that they would be properly cared for.

All provincial health offices are to draw up plans to be fully prepared for Covid-19 becoming endemic, and to persuade people to get a booster shot so that they can be sure to stay safe, the message said.

Dr Kiatiphum said the Covid-19 situation had improved and the disease was now in the last stage of declining. The number of infections and deaths in the provinces was decreasing and there were no reports of new outbreaks.

However, the ministry would wait until mid-June and assess the situation after the reopening of bars, pubs and entertainment venues before deciding whether to lower the alert level for Covid-19.

Thailand registered 21 more Covid-19 fatalities and 2,688 new cases during the previous 24 hours, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) announced on Wednesday.

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