Thailand adopts guidelines to declare COVID-19 endemic


BANGKOK (AP) — Thai health authorities on Friday approved new guidelines outlining the parameters for declaring the coronavirus pandemic an endemic disease.

Official figures show the country already meets all three criteria, but public health ministry spokesman Rungrueng Kitphati said it would still take between six months and a year before the government could make the decision. to start treating COVID-19 as a disease. which is here to stay, like the flu or measles.

Among other things, he said data from all Thai provinces must be checked and authorities must ensure numbers remain at current levels or improve before they can be declared endemic.

The guidelines developed by the ministry’s National Communicable Diseases Committee are based on three criteria: that there are fewer than 10,000 new cases per day; that the mortality rate does not exceed 0.1% of people admitted to hospital with an infection; and that more than 80% of people at risk have received at least two vaccines.

Currently, daily new cases in Thailand vary between 7,000 and 9,000, and the death rate, which was over 3% at the start of the pandemic, has fallen to 0.1%, and more than 80% of people at risk have been fully vaccinated, Rungrueng said.

Thailand joins other countries in preparing to consider the virus endemic, although the World Health Organization has said it is currently too early to consider an immediate change.

The organization has no clearly defined criteria for declaring COVID-19 an endemic disease, but its experts have previously said that will happen when the virus is more predictable and there are no outbreaks. durable.

Speaking last week on a World Economic Forum panel, Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease doctor, said COVID-19 could not be considered endemic as long as it is did not reach “a level such that it does not disturb society”.

Thailand reported 8,078 new cases and 22 deaths on Friday, for a total of 2.4 million confirmed cases and 22,098 deaths since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

To date, it has administered 113.6 million doses of vaccine and approximately 48.3 million people, or 70% of its population, are fully immunized.

By CHALIDA EKVITTHAYAVECHNUKUL Associated Press

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