The government warned the public on Friday to not worry about the surge in Covid numbers as they were in line with ministry predictions following the new year period and the spread of the Omicron variant.
“Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-ocha asked the public not to panic over the increasing number of Covid cases in the country which is in line with the global outbreak situation,” said Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, the government spokesman.
“The World Health Organisation had already warned that Omicron’s transmissible ability would lead to a rapid increase in the number of cases,” he said.
He pointed to the rapid increase in the daily number of Covid cases in the United States (704,661 on Thursday), France (332,252) and the United Kingdom (194,747) as examples of the global Omicron outbreak pattern.
Thailand reported 7,526 new Covid cases on Friday, up from around 3,500 cases in mid-December.
The Ministry of Public Health said in December that the number of daily Covid cases could reach between 12,000-30,000 per day by mid-March, depending on the scenario, because of the Omicron variant’s ability to rapidly spread amongst population and the increased in travelling between provinces during the New Year holiday period.
According to the WHO, the number of global cases has increased by 71 per cent over the last week.
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday that Omicron “appear to be less severe compared to Delta” especially for vaccinated people.
However, he also warned that the new variant should not be categorised as “mild.”
He said the record number of new cases could put severe pressure on a country’s healthcare system.
WHO’s Covid incident Manager Dr Abdi Mahamud told journalists in Geneva on Wednesday that recent studies on the outbreak of Omicron shows that there is a “decoupling” between the rapid increase in the number of cases and low death rates.
He said the variant is mostly infecting the upper part of the body which leads to fewer severe pneumonia cases.
WHO data also show that the variant had rapidly spread to at least 128 countries but the hospitalisation and death rates are usually lower than the outbreaks of previous variants.
He said that since the Omicron variant is highly transmissible, the variant could take over as the dominating variant “within weeks” in most areas.
The Omicron variant has spread to 54 provinces with 2,338 confirmed cases between November 1 and January 4. No one die from Omicron in Thailand so far.
Most of the Omicron cases are being found in Bangkok (585), Kalasin (233), Roi Et (180), Phuket (175), Chonburi (162) and Samut Prakan (106).
The Department of Medical Services said on Thursday that they are preparing around 11,000 hospital beds around the country to cope with new severe cases. Based on initial analysis, only 1.5 per cent of Omicron patients were severe cases which required 14-day of hospitalization.