Bangkokians in a tizzy over the Indian Covid variant 

RESIDENTS of Bangkok are raising questions about how the Indian variant of the coronavirus, which spreads very quickly, cropped up at a workers’ camp in Lak Si district while also keeping an eye on how extensively it will spread here, Matichon newspaper said this morning.

Meanwhile the Public Health Ministry said early this morning (May 22) that there were 3,052 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours with 2,447 being among the general public and 605 in prisons and detention centres, Amarin TV said.

There were 24 more fatalities and this increased the death toll to 759.

The new batch of cases raised the cumulative confirmed total to 126,118 with 97,225 having appeared in the ongoing wave of infection that started on April 1.

Another  2,900 patients have been cured, adding up to 82,404 who have done so since the start of the pandemic and 54,978 in the current wave.

Yesterday Dr. Supakit Sirilak, the head of Public Health Ministry’s Department of Medical Sciences, said a genetic code test of 80 samples from this workers’ camp found that 36 of them were infected with the Indian B.1.617.2 strain. Among them were 21 Thais, 10 Myanmar citizens and five Cambodians.

Samples from two other areas of Bangkok were also tested and they were found to be the British variant.

Prior to this Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong, the head of the Department of Disease Control, said of the 61 Lak Si camp samples tested, 15 corresponded with the Indian variant. Seven of them were male and eight female with the average age being 46 years. Twelve of them were construction workers while the other three were part of their households and had contact with them.

This group of migrant workers have been in Thailand for a while now and live at this camp.  They are only showing a few symptoms and have all been admitted to hospital.

“In Thailand 87% of the cases are the British variant with th Indian strain having just been detected. Genetic code testing of samples from other clusters will be carried to see how it spreads.

“According to Public Health England, the Indian strain is relatively widespread. It is similar to the British strain but there is no evidence that it causes more severe disease or more deaths. It responds to vaccines so people should not worry too much,” Dr. Supakit said.

Dr Opas also underscored that the Indian strain is not resistant to vaccines, especially the AstraZeneca which can also protect people against the British variant. This was demonstrated  in the UK where both the Indian and the British variants raged but infection decreased as vaccination with AstraZeneca increased.

Asked how effective China’s Sinovac vaccine is against the Indian coronavirus strain, Dr Opas said information from many countries showed that this vaccine too provided effective defence against the Indian strain but he would be checking the details again.


Top: Relatives of Indian patients have been refilling oxygen cylinders themselves. Photo: Getty Images and published by BBC

Home Page: This Indian woman wanted to record the moment of vaccination. Photo: Getty Images and published by BBC

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