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Thailand raises COVID-19 alert level due to Omicron spread

Randy Mancini 28 Jan 6
Healthcare workers in PPE take swab samples from people for a rapid antigen test, in Bangkok
A health worker from Zendai organisation in personal protective equipment (PPE) takes a swab sample from a girl for a rapid antigen test amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Bangkok, Thailand, January 5, 2022. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

January 6, 2022

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand on Thursday raised its COVID-19 alert level following rising infections driven by the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, a senior health official said.

The change, from level three to four, sets a pretext for possible measures that could follow, such as closing high-risk areas and placing restrictions on domestic travel or public gatherings.

“Thailand has entered a new wave of infections, where new cases will be rising fast,” said Kiattiphum Wongrajit, permanent secretary of the health ministry.

“Level four means we may close high-risk places and announce more measures.”

The move comes amid a sharp rise in daily infections since the beginning of the year.

Thailand reported 5,775 new cases on Thursday, a 48% rise on the previous day and nearly double the number on Jan. 1.

The Southeast Asian country has vaccinated about 69.1% of an estimated 72 million people living in the country with two doses, but only 10.9% have received booster shots.

(Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat; Writing by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Ed Davies)