BA.4 and BA.5 COVID sub-variants may become dominant in Thailand

A colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (green) heavily infected with Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (purple), isolated from a patient sample, at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. (Photo by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

Medical Sciences Department Director-General Dr. Supakit Sirilak has predicted that the COVID-19 Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants are likely to become dominant in Thailand,after random testing of 948 Omicron cases last week showed 489 BA.4 and BA.5 infections, 447 BA.2 infections, 10 BA.1 and two B.1.1.529 infections.

He said that there is, however, only limited information about the severity of the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants, but warned that those who have recovered from a COVID-19 can be re-infected, due to the easy transmissibility of the two sub-variants.

He said that the BA.2.75 sub-variant has not yet been detected in Thailand.

Severe illness account for just 2% of all cases, but this will increase in accordance with the rising infection rate adding, however, that it is still unclear whether the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants are to blame for the more severe cases.

Meanwhile, Head of the Department of Epidemiology Dr.Chakkarat Pittayawonganon said that small clusters ofinfections have started to emerge in schools in several provinces, but they are under control.

He warned, however, that the virus can spread within families and to the vulnerable, including people over 60, those withunderlying diseases and pregnant women.

Regarding the spread of BA.4 and BA.5 in South Africa, he said that such cases account for 64% and 27% of all casesrespectively, while, in Britain, they account for 19% and 28% of all cases. In Thailand, BA.4 and BA.5 account for 17% and 20% of all cases respectively.

1,995 new infections and 18 deaths were reported today(Monday). 677 patients are suffering from lung infections and 293 are on ventilators.

Dr. Chakkarat said that hospital bed occupancy by COVID-19 patients is now 10%, which is low, but warned that, if the occupancy increases to 50%, all hospitals must make preparations to manage the bed problem properly, adding that there is sufficient medication available to cope with the situation.



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