Key provinces to serve Covid early-warning role

Key provinces to serve Covid early-warning role

The Public Health Ministry is to monitor the Covid-19 situation, with particular regard to eight provinces including Bangkok, where it will promote booster shots.

Dr Sophon Iamsirithaworn, deputy chief of the Department of Disease Control (DDC), said surveillance will also be carried out among high-risk groups when the virus is downgraded.

The ministry has identified provinces where an outbreak is possible -- all are tourist destinations or are dense with migrant workers, he said.

"These eight provinces will serve as lookouts for the first signs of a possible outbreak. The ministry will also keep an eye on the variants. The information will be updated on a weekly basis because the situation is stable," he said.

The infection rate and emergence of new variants are the key pieces of information that can predict if an outbreak is likely, he said.

Should a trend of rising infection rates be noted, precautions will be stepped up. The DDC also announced on its social media outlet that the Covid-19 situation will be updated on a weekly basis, starting today, after the virus was downgraded from a dangerous communicable disease to a communicable disease under surveillance starting from Saturday.

Meanwhile, Dr Yong Poovorawan, chief of the university's Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology, wrote on Facebook that Covid-19 is now a common seasonal respiratory illness.

With the majority of people having been vaccinated or acquired natural immunity from infections, he said the focus can be shifted to vulnerable groups who have been advised to get a booster shot.

"In the future, there will be no such thing as a 'best vaccine'. All vaccines are the same and people should get the shot before the rainy season to prevent widespread transmission. Vulnerable groups are the first to get the shot and the vaccines can reduce severity, not prevent infection," he said.

He said Covid-19 is more likely to spread during the rainy season, or around June to September and it is likely to spread again but at a lower rate during January to March.

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