Government less concerned with Omicron than cross-border spread

The Thai Government is more concerned with the cross-border spread of Covid-19 than a new covid variant found in South Africa, a senior doctor at Siriraj Hospital told Thai Enquirer on Monday.

The omicron strain of the virus, which was predicted to be more virulent than previous strains, was first reported in the southern parts of Africa and labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization last week.

The variant has caused travel bans imposed by the European Union, the United States and various other countries to travellers coming from the affected areas of Africa. Thailand has also said it would impose a travel ban beginning on December 1.

However, according to a senior doctor at Siriraj Hospital who also advises the government, the current administration is more concerned about covid outbreaks among refugees and migrant workers traveling to the country now that the tourism industry is back under way.

“The situation in Myanmar is dire and migrants from other countries are also starting to return to their jobs in the hospitality sector, that is more concerning that Omicron for the government,” the doctor said on condition of anonymity.

The government fears that a similar situation to last December, where an outbreak among migrant worker populations in the fishing industry led to the second wave of the pandemic, could happen again.

According to the doctor, the government understands that it is difficult to shut down the porous border between Thailand and her neighbours due to the length and scope of the border.

“What needs to happen now is very active testing among migrant workers and in refugee camps and to afford those infected with every help we can give,” the doctor said.

On Omicron, the government feels confident it can introduce measures to contain its spread as the WHO and the governments in South Africa were very proactive to notifying the world of the new variant, the doctor said.

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