Lock it down? Thailand warns of dark days as Omicron detonates

Original image: ‘Gangnam Style’ / Psy
Original image: ‘Gangnam Style’ / Psy

Thailand raised the health threat level to DEFCON-2 this morning after the expected explosion of Omicron variant cases erupted.

The Ministry of Public Health announced that the coronavirus alert was elevated to its second highest level following the exponential rise in new reported cases, up nearly 50% over yesterday with 5,775 infections logged.

“Today we had a rapid increase in cases, with at least 215 from abroad,” chief disease control officer Opas Karnkawinpong said, freeing a nation to channel 4% of the blame elsewhere.

Officials said many of the new cases involved the Omicron variant without giving a number.

What does a level four health threat level signify? It means residents are urged to avoid dining and drinking at restaurants and pubs, and visiting venues deemed risky. They should also reduce group activities and curtail their movements, including daily commutes.

In addition to wearing face masks and social distancing, people should work from home as much as possible and monitor their health for at least 14 days if they have been traveling. Given the accuracy of ATK tests, people are advised to take at least two spread out between three days. Infected people should also practice 10 day home isolation.

Unfortunately, new lockdown measures are likely to be imposed as the virus burns through the kingdom, further battering the pandemic-strained economy.

Health officials are already signaling the closure of high-risk venues, and if the Omicron shitstorm hits DEFCON-1, it would mean infected residents would be required to stay at home while an overnight curfew was reimposed for everyone else. It would also mean another freeze for international travel as well.

After the third wave peaked mid-August at more than 23,000 daily cases, the rate of infection slid until the New Year. Prior to today’s massive spike, daily cases surged by 25% yesterday to 3,899. It remains to be seen what impact the Omicron-led wave will have on the medical system. Hospitalizations increased today by nearly 10% from 34,877 to 37,968.

Bangkok as well as Chonburi and Samut Prakan provinces are the worst hit, racking up 769, 494, and 454 cases, respectively.

Despite all the doomspeaking, the net result today, policy-wise, was nil. No concrete measures are expected until tomorrow at the earliest, when the COVID-19 task force comes up with a gameplan.


Thailand ‘on hold’ as it waits to see what Omicron will do

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