11 July 2024

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said today (Monday) that he is confident that COVID-19 infections, which are anticipated to surge during and after the long Songkran break, will be kept under control, thanks to mass vaccinations.

He said that the Ministry of Public Health is, however, concerned about the many elderly people and children under five who are not yet inoculated and he has been urging them to get vaccinated before Songkran this month.

He also advised parents not to take their young children to hospitals, because hospitals contain patients suffering from various diseases and a number of children have been found to be infected with COVID-19 after visits to them.

He offered the public an assurance that vaccines are safe and can reduce the risk of death or severe sickness if infected.

The public health minister reiterated that the splashing of water and daubing with powder are forbidden during Songkran again this year, as the practices involve close contact and the sharing of bowls to contain the water.

Enjoying or celebrating Songkran in the traditional way, without splashing water at or touching each other, is however permitted, he said.

Anutin also insisted that the idea of reclassifying COVID-19 as an endemic disease, tentatively from July onwards, was initiated by medical experts and the government agrees, because it would be beneficial, even though there is a risk of a surge in infections.

With proper treatment and medical facilities to accommodate patients, he said it is worth taking the risk, as he stressed the need to overcome the fear associated with the disease.

At Government House this morning, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Anutin and senior officials formally received the delivery of 3.2 million doses of Pfizer vaccine, donated by the French government. The donation was presented by the French Ambassador to Thailand, H.E. Thierry Mathou.

Government Spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said that the prime minister had thanked the French envoy for being instrumental in promoting the relationship and cooperation between Thailand and France, especially in the area of medical support, citing the vaccine donation.

He said the French ambassador was pleased with the vaccine donation as a sign of friendship between the two countries.

More than 55.6 million people in Thailand, out of the total population of approximately 69 million, have been vaccinated to date. Of this figure, 24 million have received their booster shots.