No countrywide lockdown yet to curb Omicron variant: Thai PM


BANGKOK (The Nation/Asia News Network): Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-O-Cha (pic) said on Thursday (Dec 2) that the government would not use strong measures, such as imposing a countrywide lockdown yet, in a bid to stop the worrying Covid-19 Omicron variant from making its way into the country and spreading.

Omicron, dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization last week, is a new and potentially more contagious coronavirus strain, and Thailand and other countries have in recent days restricted travel from southern Africa, where the strain was first detected.

“Strong measures, such as a lockdown across the country, will not be used yet as the government will carefully consider the impacts on the economy and tourism while choosing suitable measures that can keep people safe,” Prayut said.

“As of now we will focus on implementing the Covid Free Setting in as many areas as possible.”

The premier also urged everyone who has not been fully vaccinated to get the jabs as soon as they can.

“It is not advisable to wait for a new vaccine specifically made for the new variant as the old variants still exist in Thailand,” he pointed out.

Prayut said that although so far there are no reports of any Omicron cases in Thailand, he has instructed the Public Health Ministry and the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration to prepare for the Omicron threat by following the situation closely and stocking adequate vaccines and treatment drugs.

“People should also continue to maintain discipline and keep their guard up against the virus,” he advised.

“Most importantly, please be patient and understand that the reopening of some provinces and businesses might have to be delayed due to the threat of the new variant. The government has to do this for the sake of everyone,” he said.

“The cabinet will soon consider remedial measures for entrepreneurs of certain businesses in high-risk areas that will need to remain closed until the situation improves,” Prayut promised.

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