6 June 2024

The first COVID-19 Delta Plus case found in Thailand is the AY.1 variant, which is different from the AY.4.2 strain currently spreading in the United Kingdom. The Thai AY.1 patient has fully recovered, said Director-General of the Medical Sciences Department Dr. Supakit Sirilak, at a news conference today (Tuesday).

He disclosed that the department found one Delta Plus (AY.1) case, in a man arriving from Ayutthaya province at a field hospital in Kamphaeng Phet province in September, and 18 Alpha Plus cases, also in September, of which two were among prisoners in Chiang Mai and 16 cases were in Chanthaburi and Trat provinces.

All 16 Alpha Plus cases, including four Thais and 12 Cambodians, are workers in longan orchards in the two eastern provinces bordering Cambodia.

Dr. Supakit explained that the Alpha Plus is a variant which mutated from the Alpha strain and is capable of evading the immune response. Hence, it can cause additional symptoms. He added that Alpha Plus is not a new sub-variant, as it was first detected in Britain last December.

According to GISAID, a global science initiative that provides open-access to genomic data of influenza viruses and the coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, Alpha Plus is spreading in Cambodia, whereas the Delta strain is dominant in Thailand.

Regarding the first case of Delta Plus, Dr. Supakit said that, although the patient has been discharged, health officials are still required to take fluid samples from people who were in close contact with the patient for testing.

Thailand, he said, has been conducting regular genome sequencing of an average of 450 samples of COVID-19 strains per week, and sending results to GISAID.

Deputy Public Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha, meanwhile, assured the public that the Public Health Ministry is being transparent and is not withholding any information related to the Delta Plus infection, as he advised people not to panic over the new mutation.

Mutations of coronavirus are normal, he said, adding that what matters most is whether the new variants or sub-variants will cause more severe symptoms or are more easily transmissible.