Omicron Covid-19 variant: the Thai government on the hunt for African visitors

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The Thai Immigration Bureau and the Ministry of Public Health are tracking around 783 African travelers who have entered Thailand since November 15.

They are looking to test them for the Omicron coronavirus variant in a bid to maximize public safety, reports the Bangkok Post.



African visitors are believed to be found in major tourist destinations, including Bangkok, and authorities are trying to reach them and ask them to be tested to find out if they have the new Omicron strain, the national police chief said. , Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk.

“Don’t panic. Police are working urgently with the Ministry of Public Health [to take care of this matter],” he said.

Immigration police and the ministry are also maximizing Covid-19 control measures at airports in the face of escalating health threats that would be caused by the new variant, he said.

Security authorities are also stepping up border security measures to curb illegal border crossings by nature trails in border provinces, he said, adding that a growing number of illegal migrants have been arrested.

From November 15 to last Saturday, a total of 333 people from eight southern African countries, currently barred from entry by several countries, entered Thailand, said Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesperson for the Center for Covid-19. Situation Administration (CCSA).

The countries are Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Thailand has also imposed a similar travel ban on visitors from those countries, starting on Wednesday, he said.

Of the 333 people, three had already left Thailand.

He said 23 of them had been contacted by text message and requested to undergo an RT-PCR test for Covid-19.

The test is offered free of charge in public hospitals, he said.

For more information on this specific Covid-19 testing requirement, African visitors are encouraged to call the 1442 hotline, he said.

Those who refuse to comply with this requirement may face legal action for violating Thailand’s communicable disease control law, he said.

As of November 15, Thailand also began to impose a 14-day Covid-19 quarantine on travelers from those eight African countries, he said.

For Thai nationals who returned from one of these African countries from November 15 to last Saturday and could not afford the cost of the hotel quarantine service, they were allowed to submit to the Covid-19 quarantine. at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Bamrasnaradura instead. , he said.

More than 100 people who have already arrived in Thailand from other countries also considered to be risk areas for the Omicron variant are also due to undergo a new RT-PCR test.

Citing updates reported at Wednesday’s meeting of the ministry’s Emergency Operations Center, he said most symptoms of infection from the Omicron variant remain similar to common symptoms of infection from older variants, including muscle pain.

However, while there have still been no reports of serious illness linked to infection with the Omicron variant, several deaths linked to this strain have already been recorded, he said.
As for the expected faster transmission of the new variant, he said, there is no evidence yet to confirm this speculation, he said.

At the moment, he said, being fully vaccinated against Covid-19 is still the best defense against the disease.


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