Covid deaths dropping
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Covid deaths dropping

Virus adapting to co-existence with humans, says top health official

A nurse prepares a shot of Covid-19 vaccine in Bangkok on May 11. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)
A nurse prepares a shot of Covid-19 vaccine in Bangkok on May 11. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

Covid-19 related deaths declined last week as the dominant strain is neither more transmissible nor more severe, according to the Public Health Department.

Permanent secretary Opas Karnkawinpong said on Monday there were 42 fatalities related to Covid-19 last week, down from  64 deaths the previous week.

"The (fatality) rate is starting to fall," he said.

Most of the deaths were elderly people, those with underlying illnesses and pregnant women. Deaths  resulted from lung inflammation, respiratory failure and complications including chronic kidney disease.

"Most of them had not sought the vaccination advised by the health ministry. Some peole had fears of side effects," Dr Opas said.

"Vaccines reduce symptoms and fatalities. Young family members should take their elders for vaccination. However, sometimes it turns out that the children and grandchildren are the people who are afraid of side effects," he said, while recommending annual Covid-19 inoculation.

Dr Opas said that the XBB.1.16 strain was spreading in Thailand but it was neither more transmissible nor more severe than other strains. Covid-19 infections were rising more in Greater Bangkok than in other provinces, he said.

Most cases now were asymptomatic because of vaccination. A survey found that 90% of Thai people had Covid-19 antibodies from vaccination or infection, Dr Opas said.

"It may now be similar to other respiratory diseases which evolve. After infection, people have antibodies and the disease tries to adapt for co-existence. It is a time of balance between humans and the disease," the public health permanent secretary said.

He said there was no shortage of hospital beds for Covid-19 inpatients. The bed occupancy rate for Covid-19 patients nationwide was 22%. Any reported shortage may have been at hospitals that had reduced the number of beds reserved for Covid-19 cases, Dr Opas said.

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