6 June 2024

The main concerns surrounding the rapid transmissibility of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, which accounted for 97.2% of samplings of infections last week, are not hospitalisation or mortality rates, but the long-term effects on the mental and physical health of the patients, known as long COVID, according to a senior Thai doctor.

These symptoms may disrupt patients’ ways of life, their families, their working efficiency, as well as having long-term economic and social impacts, at both the individual and national levels, according to Assoc. Prof. Dr. Thira Woratanarat of the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University today (Tuesday).

In his Facebook post, Dr. Thira provided an overview of the global COVID-19 pandemic situation, which shows that over 413 million people have been infected by the virus and over 5.8 million people have died.

With the emergence of the Omicron variant, new infections in Asia, Europe and North America now account for 89.7% of worldwide infections and mortalities on the three continents account for 78.29% of the global death toll.

Citing information from ourworldindata.org, Dr. Thira pointed out that infection and mortality rates during the second and third waves of COVID-19 in Thailand were high due to bungled health policies and lockdown restrictions, unrestricted travel and festive celebrations.

During the 4th wave, with Omicron as the dominant variant, he said the acute severity of the virus has reduced, compared to the Delta variant, but Omicron transmits faster, which may lead to longer term effects, both physical and psychological.

Self-defence remains the best weapon against Omicron, said Dr. Thira, as he advised everyone to wear face masks always, maintain social distancing, meet as few people as necessary and avoid eating together or sharing the same utensils. If felling unwell, people should take a break and see a doctor, he added.

He is, however, optimistic that the situation will improve and we will all feel more relaxed in the second half of this year.