A number of provinces in Thailand have stated their intention to be among the first to declare COVID-19 an endemic disease, though approval from the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is required before any further announcements can be made.
Dr Suthep Petchmak, inspector-general of the Ministry of Public Health, said during a meeting that he was informed by Dr Kiattiphum Wongrajit, permanent secretary for public health, that 15 provinces are prepared for the new disease status.
According to Dr Suthep, the Department of Disease Control has completed its criteria for the designation, but the EOC has yet to discuss which provinces are ready for approval. A date for the EOC meeting to discuss the issue has not been set.
Dr Suthep did not name the 15 provinces, but noted that Songkhla would be one of them. The southern province said it is ready to declare COVID-19 endemic because 80% of its population have been vaccinated for COVID and 30% have received booster shots.
The National Communicable Disease Committee defines endemic provinces as having fewer than 10,000 new daily cases and a fatality rate of less than 0.1%. More than 80% of those at risk must have also received coronavirus vaccine doses.
Suvarnabhumi Airport Director Kittipong Kittikachorn meanwhile said the airport will discuss with other agencies expanding its capacity to accommodate more international visitors.
Kittipong expects international arrivals to increase beginning May 1 following the lifting of the Test & Go Scheme by the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration. He also said airport officials are discussing a number of initiatives to help alleviate overcrowding at the facility.