Ministry hails 'return to normal' as variants 'now manageable'

Ministry hails 'return to normal' as variants 'now manageable'

People go to Bang Sue Grand Station on Friday to get vaccinated. The vaccination centre  at the station closes from Saturday. (Photo: Jetjaras Na Ranong)
People go to Bang Sue Grand Station on Friday to get vaccinated. The vaccination centre at the station closes from Saturday. (Photo: Jetjaras Na Ranong)

The Public Health Ministry has eased the Covid-19 alert level as the situation is stabilising and current variants are considered manageable, according to a director at Bangkok Siriroj Hospital.

Dr Chakrarat Pittayawonganon, director of the epidemiology division at the Department of Disease Control, Siriroj Hospital, said on Friday that the ministry's Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) will shut down on Saturday.

Wearing face masks in most public places remains optional but it is still recommended along with social distancing, hand washing and temperature-checking (DMHT) measures, he said.

Dr Chakrarat said the ministry has downgraded Covid-19 to Level 1 but it is hard to predict future patient numbers or whether there will be successive waves.

Organisations under the ministry will keep tracking and monitoring the situation especially patients who need supplementary oxygen or record lung infections, he said.

Dr Naruemon Sawanpanyalert, a specialist in the Department of Medical Sciences (DMS), said new Covid-19 inpatients will fall into one of six categories: people with a high temperature who show positive test results every four hours over two days; those with low oxygen levels; people with underlying health conditions; patients who may develop severe symptoms; people with serious health conditions that require hospitalisation; and children who require feeding tubes or supplementary oxygen.

However, people who get infected but show mild or no symptoms can be treated as outpatients and are required to strictly follow DMHT measures for five days, she added.

Only those who develop severe symptoms or have underlying health conditions will be prescribed antiviral pills against Covid-19 such as Molnupiravir, Paxlovid or Remdesivir, she noted.

Dr Prasit Watanapa, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, said the number of cases continues to drop, with fewer fatalities, as Thailand officially returns to a state of normalcy today.

He said more vaccinations coupled with milder variants are causing a drop in patient numbers, with Covid-19 increasingly being compared to the common cold.

With many people concerned the virus will continue to mutate in the future, Dr Prasit said any new variants could be more infectious but less severe.

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