PUBLIC URGED NOT TO PANIC OVER OMICRON DISCOVERY

As a result of Thailand’s first Omicron Coronavirus variant infection, the Thai government and business leaders urge people not to panic. Several economists warn that a lockdown would be disastrous for the struggling economy.

The coronavirus variant was found in an American businessman of Thai descent who arrived in the country from Spain, senior Public Health Ministry officials said on Monday.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is asking the Thai public not to panic but to remain on their guard as he urged the unvaccinated to get their shots quickly, said Government Spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana.

He said the prime minister and health officials will closely monitor Omicron variant infections in the country, adding however that the government will not yet consider increased restrictions.

He also said that the prime minister has confidence in Thailand’s monitoring and screening systems, citing the quick and early detection of first Omicron case in a 33-year old American businessman, who arrived in Thailand from Spain via Dubai on November 30th.

According to Supant Mongkolsuthree, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, there is no need for the public to panic over the new strain. Saying lockdowns would damage the Thai economy, which is just beginning to show signs of recovery.

The solution is not a lockdown. We must find a way to coexist [with the virus], he said, noting that new cases are declining and that hospital admissions consistently outnumber recoveries.

“Things are looking up. While visiting Phuket recently, I heard from local residents that things are improving,” he said. “This means we are on the right track. People shouldn’t panic, otherwise, the economy will collapse.”

In agreement with Mr Supant, the chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, Sanan Angubolkul, said that any resumption of lockdowns would be harming its international image.