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Covid disease on the rise in Thailand


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Thai experts, celebrities and community leaders warn of a growing number of new cases of covid in Thailand and globally

The public is being warned of the risk of contracting the omicron sub-variant XBB.1.16, especially during the Songkran celebrations, as the new sub-variant is believed to have caused a spike in covid cases in India, the Bangkok Post reported.

The statement was made by public health expert and lecturer in the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, Dr Tira Vorathanarat.

The doctor pointed out the increasing number of cases of covid among actors, actresses, celebrities and politicians. Tira emphasised the risk of contracting the virus, especially during Songkran celebrations when many people participate in water games and travel to visit relatives in the province.

“I have to thank all these showbiz and media people for warning the public about the continuing risk of contracting the coronavirus,” the doctor said.

Popular Thai actor Nattawut “Po” Skidai posted on social media that he had fallen ill with covid. The actor warned of the continuing risk of contracting the coronavirus as it seems many people have become less vigilant about protecting themselves from it.

Nathavut said he had a bad sore throat and was coughing up blood, which caused him to stay up all night until he was admitted to hospital and tested for the coronavirus. The actor said it was the first time he had contracted covid since the disease appeared a few years ago.

“Covid is still here and the number of new cases of infection is high. I am worried about the health of elderly people who may not be aware of the risk of contracting the virus while bathing in Songkran,” Nattawut said.

Mongkolkit Suksintaranon, MP and leader of the Thai Civilized Party, is another prominent public figure who has issued a warning about the risk of contracting the coronavirus. Like Poh, the man first contracted the disease. Along with the warning, the politician posted a picture of himself showing his face severely swollen.

On Saturday alone, 58’903 new cases of covid virus infection, including 313 deaths, were reported worldwide, Dr Tyra said adding that South Korea, France, Japan, Russia and Mexico are among the top five countries in the world with the highest number of new cases of covid-19 infection daily.

Citing information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr Tira said that XBB sub-variants of Omicron are the cause of 97% of new Covid-19 infections and the XBB.1.16 sub-variant is now of particular concern to international scientists.

According to WHO, XBB.1.16 is one of more than 600 omicron subvariants currently circulating. It is similar to subvariant XBB.1.5 but differs in that it has a mutation in the spike protein that ‘may provide some additional growth benefits,’ Dr Peter Hotez, co-director of the Vaccine Development Centre at Texas Children’s Hospital, told Time.

In laboratory studies, this additional mutation “demonstrates increased infectivity as well as potentially increased pathogenicity,” Van Kerkhove told the paper. “There are potential changes in it that we need to monitor closely.”

Thailand’s Bureau of Epidemiology expects an increase in covid cases after the Songkran festival due to people’s activity during the festival and their travels, the Department of Disease Control said.

The number of cases after Songkran may be higher than after New Year’s Eve, when anti-covid measures were relaxed. As a result, people are not required to undergo covid testing before taking part in mass events, and fewer people are wearing masks outside, said department director general Thares Krasanairavwong.

After Songkran, people are advised to stay under observation for at least seven days and avoid close contact with the elderly or people with chronic illnesses, Thares added.

As for the spread of the XBB.1.16 subvariant has been detected in 22 countries, mostly in India. As of 13 April, some 3,000 cases of the subvariant had been reported worldwide, six of them in Thailand, Tares said. 

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