13 July 2024

Almost 130,000 youths in Thailand, aged between 6 and 18, were found to be infected with COVID-19 from April until September 11, with 69,628 cases alone in August, said Dr. Suwanchai Wattayingcharoenchai, director-general of Health Services Department, today (Tuesday).

Of all the cases since April, 116,742 are Thai and 12,423 are non-Thai. Infections among youths were 2,426 cases in April this year, 6,432 cases in May, 6,023 cases in June to 31,377 cases in July before skyrocketing in August, even though all schools remain closed.

The death toll is 15 and most of those had underlying conditions.

Dr. Suwanchai attributed the surge in infections among the young to active screening and confirmed cross infection from those close to them, particularly their families.

Provinces with high youth infection rates are Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Chon Buri, Samut Sakhon, Nonthaburi, Songkhla, Narathiwat, Nakhon Pathom, Pattani and Ratchaburi.

Regarding the vaccination of those under 18 who have underlying conditions, 74,932 have received their first jab of Pfizer vaccine and 3,241 their second.

Regarding the “Sandbox Safety Zone in School” (SSS) scheme, Dr. Suwanchai said that joining the program is voluntary, but schools wanting to join must be ready and must have consulted the parents of their students and sought the approval of the provincial communicable disease committee in the respective province.

Under the SSS program for boarding schools, all students, teachers and other personnel in a school must be vaccinated, with at least 85% of the teaching staff and personnel having been inoculated and they must take an antigen test every 14 days. Teaching can be done online or onsite and, if classes are to be held in person, the school in question must strictly comply with the guidelines of the Public Health Ministry.

For on-site learning, all students must take antigen tests before entering their schools. Group activities must follow the “bubble and seal” guidelines and there must be no contact between groups. Risk assessment must be held once a week for schools in “green” provinces.

For schools in “yellow” provinces, all the teachers and other staff must undergo antigen tests once every fortnight. For those in “orange” provinces, risk assessment of teachers and other staff must be held twice a week.

For the “red” provinces, besides the measures applied in the “orange” zones, all businesses within ten metres of a school must be subject to a “Thai Stop COVID Plus” assessment and the “COVID free setting” regimen.  School passes must be issued for all students and teachers and each class can contain a maximum of 25 students.

For those in COVID-19 “dark red” provinces, students will be subject to risk assessment on daily basis.