6 June 2024

Thailand’s Disease Control Department has published basic information about the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, so the public can monitor for physical symptoms. The initial symptoms include muscle pain and fatigue, but not serious, and the patients do not lose their sense of smell or taste, as in the case of infection by other variants.

Omicron spreads quickly and can reproduce faster than the “wild” coronavirus strains. There is no information yet about its severity, its incubation period, vaccine effectiveness or its immunity evasion capability.

Meanwhile, Head of the Centre of Excellence of Clinical Virology at Chulalongkorn University Dr. Yong Poovorawan offered advice on precautionary measures to cope with Omicron which, he predicted, will replace the Delta variant as the dominant strain in the near future.

In his Facebook post today, he recalled the various variants which have spread in Thailand and elsewhere before each of them is replaced with new one, beginning with the variant from China’s Wuhan city, to others such as Alpha and Delta, which became the dominant variant for a longer period than the others, ahead of the emergence of Omicron.

Citing scientific theory, Dr. Yong said that there is a likelihood that Omicron variant may spread across the world and arrive in Thailand by air, land or sea.

Citing previous lessons learnt, he said that most of the variants which entered Thailand did so over land, through porous borders, rather than by air.

One of the precautionary measures to cope with the Omicron variant, according to Dr. Yong, is to intensify vaccinations to cover all or almost all of the population, although the effectiveness of the available vaccines may be reduced with the new variant, but they can still prevent death or hospitalisation, citing information from South Africa, which shows 90% of those hospitalised were not inoculated.

He said that there are sufficient vaccines for everyone in Thailand and for booster shots.

Omicron has now been detected in 30 countries, including Singapore and India. It has not yet been detected in Thailand.