THE Public Health Ministry said this afternoon (Dec. 15) that one more patient has been confirmed to be infected with the Omicron variant of coronavirus taking the total to nine out of 14 potential cases, Matichon newspaper said.
Dr. Supakit Sirilak, head of the Medical Sciences Department, said the nine cases were confirmed by whole genome sequencing.
He added that Thailand stepped up surveillance after the World Health Organisation declared Omicron a variant of concern on Nov. 26 by postponing the move to switch the testing of travellers from RT-PCR method to antigen test kit (ATK) as part of the move to safely reopen the country to tourism.
“In this regard, since the reopening of the country on November 1 we have been randomly testing thousands of samples for strains collected from infected people and those critically ill found at the border as well as all foreign travellers and among strange clusters and cases of unknown causes.
“Mostly the Delta variant was found and if Omicron crops up it will be detected.
“If we act fast it will not be a problem and we hope to detect cases when people come in and conscientiously undergo a test and not sneak in as happened with Delta.
“I still confirm that the RT-PCR test is not a problem because we test many genes and even ATK can detect it by 90% … the only thing is the first few days the viral load is low and the tests may yield false negative results,” he said.
He reiterated that Omicron is not a descendant of the pre-existing Delta and Beta variants but a new one. What has been found so far is that firstly it spreads faster secondly as yet there is no news of the symptoms being severe with no indication that it is any worse than Delta but thirdly there is more information now that it is able to evade vaccine protection.
The ministry earlier in the day said there were 3,370 Covid cases and 29 deaths over the past 24 hours with this taking the cumulative confirmed total since April 1 to 2,149,413.
Of the new batch of patients 3,161 emerged in the surveillance and healthcare systems, 78 were found through proactive search in communities, 111 fell sick in prisons and detention centres while 20 foriegn arrivals tested positive.
Another 4,557 patients were cured taking total recoveries since April 1 to 2,083,275 while 46,315 are still undergoing treatment.
Top: Thai authorities have banned entry of people travelling from eight African countries in the wake of the new Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus. Photo: AFP via Getty Images and published by The Independent
Home Page: Omicron has been found to be very different from previous variants due to the numerous mutations it has undergone. Straits Times illustration