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Songkran Festival Mayhem: COVID-19 Cases to Skyrocket as New Variant Lurks!

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As the Songkran Festival comes to an end, thousands of people convened at Naris bridge in Surat Thani Municipality to celebrate, despite concerns from the Department of Disease Control (DDC) that Covid-19 cases may rise as a result. DDC director-general Thares Krasanairawiwong expressed that the number of cases after Songkran could surpass those seen after the New Year due to relaxed Covid-19 measures, with fewer people wearing masks outdoors and not needing tests to participate in activities.

From April 9-15, 435 new infections were admitted to hospitals for treatment, averaging 62 cases per day or a 2.5 times increase from the previous week. Among these, 30 individuals suffered from lung inflammation and 19 required ventilation, marking a 58% and 36% increase, respectively. During this period, there were also two fatalities from those who had received their last booster shots more than three months ago.

Dr.Krasanairawiwong urged those in high-risk groups, especially the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, to obtain a booster shot from a nearby medical service office as soon as possible. The majority of hospital admissions during this period, according to Dr. Sopon Iamsirithavorn, DDC deputy director-general, were not severe cases as most patients had either been vaccinated or previously contracted the virus.

After Songkran, Dr. Iamsirithavorn advises people to self-monitor for at least seven days and avoid close contact with the elderly or those with chronic illnesses. Meanwhile, the XBB.1.16 Covid-19 variant continues to spread, having been detected in 22 countries, predominantly in India. As of April 13, GISAID (the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data) reported nearly 3,000 cases worldwide, with six identified in Thailand, according to Dr. Iamsirithavorn.

In conclusion, the potential increase in Covid-19 cases following the Songkran Festival remains a concern for health authorities. The relaxed measures during the celebration, coupled with the ongoing threat of new variants, further emphasize the importance of booster shots for vulnerable populations and continued vigilance in monitoring one’s health after participating in large gatherings.

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