The government is advised to reimpose strict Covid-19 prevention measures, including the mandatory use of face masks, to help limit the spread of Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5, the head of the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital said on Tuesday.
Prof Dr Prasit Watanapa said the current Covid situation in Thailand is no different from 110 other countries that are dealing with the highly transmissible BA.4 and BA.5, and these sub-variants will soon become dominant in the country.
Although BA.4 and BA.5 may appear to cause less severe symptoms according to data from different countries, control and prevention measures must be implemented again as only 42-43% of people have received a booster shot against the coronavirus, and then there are the unvaccinated, he said.
"The government should reintroduce stringent control measures, including wearing masks indoors," Dr Prasit said. "This is urgent, and we should not wait until there are not enough hospital beds."
"[BA.4 and BA.5] may not be as not as severe as the Delta variant but they are more infectious, and if the number of cases continues to increase, they may mutate further."
Dr Nithipat Jearakul, head of the Department of Respiratory Disease and Tuberculosis at Siriraj Hospital, posted a message on his Facebook page on Monday urging all sides to take more precautions to help prevent a possible new surge in Covid-19 cases over the next two to three weeks.
According to the Facebook post, the situation is more intense than last week, with the number of Covid patients increasing in the hospital.
More frontline medical workers have returned to working double time, and many hospitals in Bangkok and other provinces are in the same situation as Siriraj Hospital, he wrote.
"The situation is in contrast of the daily cases being reported," Dr Nithipat wrote. "The number of available hospital beds for Covid patients is diminishing fast, while most of the beds for non-Covid patients have been taken."
The daily Covid numbers should have been about 50,000 by the end of last week, and the reported figures came in batches and were not released consistently, he said.
The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) reported 18 more Covid-19 fatalities and 1,917 confirmed new cases on Monday.