Covid-19 cases 'are declining' despite foreign arrival surge
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Covid-19 cases 'are declining' despite foreign arrival surge

Tourists visit Yaowarat Road during the Luna New Year celebration on Jan 22. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Tourists visit Yaowarat Road during the Luna New Year celebration on Jan 22. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

The number of Covid-19 cases has gradually declined, despite the spike in foreign visitors entering the country, said government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul.

According to the Tourism and Sports Ministry, 1,342,365 people entered the country from Jan 1 to 21. Out of those, 914,746 were foreign nationals. Most visitors came from Russia, Malaysia, Korea, India, and Laos, respectively.

The number of tourists has tended to increase since the country relaxed its immigration measures, especially after China allowed its citizens to go abroad freely.

Miss Traisuree said there were 627 cases of people being hospitalised in the country last week, including 44 deaths.

The number was down from the week of Jan 8–14, which saw 969 new Covid cases and 65 deaths, she added.

Eight foreigners were reported to have brought the disease into the country from Jan 8 to 21, said Miss Traisuree.

Most cases came from China (three cases), while the others were from Myanmar, Cambodia, Korea, Japan, and Britain (one case each).

The dominant sub-variant of the Omicron strain is BA.2.75, with 86% prevalence, while another is the domestic sub-variant, she said, citing the Department of Medical Sciences.

The government encourages people to get vaccinated because the country needs to strike a balance between the economy and disease control, she said.

Separately, Dr Manoon Leechawengwongs, a pulmonologist at Vichaiyut Hospital, said the newly imported XBB.1.5 strain could cause a new wave.

The XBB.1.5 sub-variant, according to Dr Manoon, was first detected in India in August and developed by combining the BA.2.10.1 sub-variant with the BA.2.75 sub-variant.

This sub-variant spreads easier and avoids antibodies better, but is less severe, especially in vaccinated people or those who have already been exposed to the virus.

Meanwhile, Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt said City Hall applies strict disease control measures against foreign visitors.

Visitors who test positive for the virus through antigen tests are immediately quarantined at City Hall hospitals, he said.

The governor said the disease situation in Bangkok is not critical, as the capital has detected fewer than 100 Covid cases daily.

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