Visitors must still wear masks after COVID becomes endemic: Anutin

NONTHABURI: The National Communicable Diseases Committee has started to discuss post-pandemic plans, including requirements for visitors to keep wearing face masks, according to the public health minister.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul. Photo: Bangkok Post

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said after chairing the committee’s meeting at the Public Health Ministry yesterday (May 11) that the panel was considering measures to control COVID-19 after it becomes endemic, reports the Bangkok Post.

New COVID-19 cases were declining in the country and many other countries also planned to make COVID-19 endemic including India, Spain and the United States (California), he said.

New cases and fatalities had dropped faster than expected because of public cooperation and increasing vaccinations, Anutin added.

According to the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), there were 17,386 new cases yesterday including 9,736 positive results from antigen tests while fatalities dropped below 100 for the first time since May 1. There were 56 COVID-19 deaths.

“This is the result of the efforts by those who strictly comply with COVID-19 prevention measures and the high ratio of people who have received COVID-19 vaccination,” said Anutin.

Steps were taken during yesterday’s meeting to prepare the redefinition of COVID-19 as endemic and they included the Public Health Ministry lowering its COVID-19 alert from Level 4 to Level 3 and provincial authorities asked to prepare their own action plans.

The plans would be based on universal protection, universal vaccination and the adequacy of hospital beds, doctors, medical supplies and vaccines. The measures would also cover the operations of entertainment venues, he said.

The Thailand Pass entry registration for arrivals could be lifted because new infections were being found in fewer than 10 visitors a day, he said.

The Department of Disease Control (DDC) would plan measures to urge visitors to wear face masks to help control COVID-19, Anutin said.

The DDC has also been asked to seek effective COVID-19 measures if nightclubs, bars and other night entertainment venues are allowed to reopen.

To proceed to the next step, the ministry consulted with the DDC to seek measures to help such venues resume operations and try to find measures to encourage foreign tourists to wear face masks at all times.

“Right now controlling the disease is not a problem but controlling people’s behaviour is. We still need to encourage people to put on face masks,” Anutin said.

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