COVID-19 infections in Thailand expected to peak again in September
Daily COVID-19 infections are expected to peak at about 4,000 cases in September and outdoor mask wearing is still necessary, though voluntary, while the COVID-19 Alert Level will remain at 2, according to senior officials of the Ministry of Public Health.
Chief of the Disease Control Department’s Epidemiology Division Chakkarat Pittayawonganon said today (Tuesday) that data on infections from the 22nd to 26th weeks of this year clearly show a rising trend, especially in Bangkok and touristic provinces, despite fewer infections being reported by the government this week.
He said that the infection curve will climb steeply, to its peak of about 4,000 cases a day in September, from about 2,000 cases this week, if the relaxation of COVID-19 measures since June remains unchanged, including voluntary mask wearing.
Dr. Chakkarat said that the wearing of a face mask outdoors is still necessary, albeit no longer mandatory, and most people in Bangkok appear to be still wearing them.
He insisted that severe COVID-19 case hospital bed occupancy is, currently, 10.9%, but he warned that, if the rate increases to 50%, all state hospitals would have to adjust their bed management to cope.
An urgent directive has recently been issued by Public Health Permanent Secretary Kiattibhoom Vongrachit to all state hospitals, instructing them to prepare spare beds, equipment, medication and manpower to cope with a potential new wave of COVID-19 infections.
General hospital bed occupancy in Bangkok is 35.6%, 28.2% in Samut Prakan, 28.4% in Phuket, 27.6% in Nonthaburi and 21.6% in Pathum Thani province.
Dr. Kiattibhoom, however, said that Thailand is now approaching a post-pandemic period, which means that people in the country will have to live with COVID-19 and infections will occur, although the severity of the effects of the disease may reduce.
He said that the surge in infections is not unexpected, but it will not be a new pandemic, as he offered an assurance that the Public Health Ministry has made preparations for adequate medical personnel, medication and hospital beds to be available to cope with the new situation.
He said that the increasing daily infections do not justify a raising of the Alert Level, claiming that the situation is under control and that the “Universal Prevention” and “Universal Vaccination” measures are still in place.
“Universal Prevention” includes social distancing, regular hand washing and face mask wearing. He suggested that people wear a mask in public and, especially, in crowded areas where air circulation is poor. This is particularly important for elderly people and those suffering from underlying diseases.
“Universal Vaccination”, he said, means that people receive their booster shots to help reduce the risk of becoming severely sick and hospitalisation.