Work from home to prevent uptick after Songkran, dept says

BANGKOK: The Public Health Ministry is urging businesses and organisations across all sectors to ask their employees to work from home for seven days, to prevent COVID-19 infections from sharply increasing following the Songkran holiday break.

Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong railway station is packed with those coming back from their home provinces on the last day of the Songkran holidays. Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul

“Once the Songkran festival is over, the number of cases may increase by 20-30%,” said Chakrarat Pittawawonganon, director of the Department of Disease Control’s Epidemiology Division, yesterday (Apr 17).

He urged state agencies and private sector firms to implement a work-from-home policy for 5-7 days, in addition to regular antigen screening, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 at workplaces, reports the Bangkok Post.

He stressed the importance of booster shots for those who belong to high-risk groups, such as those aged 60 and over, people with chronic health conditions and pregnant women.

To date, only 37% of those who belong to these groups have received a booster shot, far below the government’s target of 60%, Dr Chakrarat said.

Meanwhile, Supot Malaniyom, secretary-general of the National Security Council and director of the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration’s (CCSA) operation centre, said the agency will meet this week to assess infection trends following the holiday period.

Supot said the CCSA will use the information to decide on its next steps. That said, any steps taken will be directed towards achieving the goal of declaring COVID-19 as an endemic disease in July.

The meeting will also discuss the readiness of schools to reopen for the new term, as well as a possible revision of travel restrictions via land, sea and air, he said.

Supot urged everyone to strictly abide by disease control measures once they return from their holidays, and undergo regular antigen screening to prevent another mass outbreak.

He said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has also instructed the Public Health Ministry, provincial communicable diseases committees, as well as the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and local administrative organisations to ramp up screenings and ensure enough isolation facilities are available in case of an uptick.

Yesterday, 17,775 new infections were reported across the country. While 24,545 people were discharged from hospitals yesterday, 214,554 patients are still receiving COVID treatment.

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