Thailand on Monday raised its COVID-19 alert level to the second-highest tier following a rising number of new infections linked to the spread of the Omicron variant.
The Ministry of Public Health raised the COVID-19 alert level from 3 to 4, a category that includes regulations discouraging dining or drinking at restaurants and avoiding public gatherings to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The move came as the number of new infections, severe cases and deaths continue to rise, with authorities noting an increased risk of infection among family members and close acquaintances as a result of taking part in collective activities such as dining out, playing sports, and attending wedding and funeral ceremonies, Dr Rungrueng said.
The ministry expected the number of new infections to keep rising in the coming one or two weeks due to the fast spread of the Omicron variant, which now accounts for more than 90 per cent of active cases.
“We had previously announced [the Level-4 alert], but the public may have forgotten the warning,” Dr Kiattiphum said, adding that if people fail to comply with precautions and the outbreak does not slow, then strict curbs may have to be brought back.
Jakkarat Pittayawong-anont, director of the Department of Disease Control’s epidemiology division, said that throughout the country, infections have been increasing across all groups, particularly among working-age people and children.
He said that the 18 provinces promoted for tourism must be closely monitored. Of them, eight provinces — Bangkok, Chon Buri, Phuket, Kanchanaburi, Krabi, Phangnga, Nonthaburi, and Pathum Thani — have seen case numbers fluctuate, though the trend is still rising.
Thailand reported 18,883 new cases and 32 additional fatalities over the past 24 hours, raising the total number of infections and fatalities to more than 2.73 million and 22,656 respectively, according to the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).
The ministry advised the public to take booster shots as soon as possible, especially those aged above 60 or with underlying diseases.
As of Sunday, 71.1 per cent of the country’s nearly 70-million population had been fully-vaccinated, while 27.5 per cent had received booster shots, according to the CCSA.