The Ministry of Public Health has raised its alert level for COVID-19 to level 4 in response to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

The ministry indicates that no lockdowns will be implemented during the current, or 5th wave of outbreaks but it will instead rely on disease prevention measures, closure or restriction of risk venues, application of the Work from Home model, and encouraging people to delay interprovincial trips.

Public Health Ministry Permanent Secretary Kiatiphum Wongrajit announced that the Ministry of Public Health has lifted its alert level for COVID-19 from level 3 to level 4, and doing so entails additional health measures.

The highest alert level is 5, which would involve a curfew and a ban on gatherings of five or more people.

Thailand has suspended new Thailand Pass issuances for “Test and Go” program without quarantine since December 22, 2021 over Omicron concerns after the reopening of several parts of the country to overseas visitors from 63 countries on November 1.

More venues to be shut down

Certain venues deemed to present a high risk of spreading the coronavirus may be ordered shut, and more restriction measures may be implemented for venues that are allowed to remain open. More limitations will be placed on assemblies and social activities, while employers will be asked to implement the Work from Home model for 50-80% of their workers.

Authorities will encourage the delay of the movement of people across provinces as well as travels abroad, while maintaining the quarantine requirement for international arrivals.

Dr. Kiatiphum urged the public and the operators of various establishments to adhere strictly to the VUCA, which involves getting vaccinated, observing Universal Prevention guidelines and the COVID Free Setting protocol, and regularly testing for Covid using ATK kits.

The permanent secretary for health gave a summary of the Covid situation at present, saying critical patients and deaths have decreased but new infections have rapidly picked up after people frequented restaurants that were operated as bars in practice. Other sources of transmission include festivities, feasts, and religious events where not enough precaution was taken against COVID-19.

According to Dr. Kiatiphum, travels also contributed to the spread of the coronavirus and he would like people returning to Bangkok from the provinces to monitor themselves for 14 days, adding that it would be best if they could work from home. He encouraged these travelers to frequently use ATK kits to test for Covid in the first week after their return, so that infections can be quickly detected and disease prevention and control steps may promptly be taken.

He added that provincial authorities must rigorously enforce the law when infections are found, while restaurants and other service venues must adhere strictly to the COVID Free Setting guideline.

More than 2.2 million people have been infected with COVID-19 since the third wave began in April 2021. Yesterday, Director-general of Medical Services Dr. Somsak Akksilp said Thailand is facing the fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic sooner than anticipated. Over 41 million people out of about 69 million have received two vaccine doses to date.

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