The average number of new laboratory-confirmed (PCR positive) COVID-19 cases reported per day decreased by 19% in the past 7 days compared to the previous week, with the total passing 4 million reported cases of COVID-19 in Thailand. This is the second week of decreases; however, we must wait a few weeks more to know if there has been any increased transmission arising from Songkran family gatherings. The average number of probable (ATK positive) cases reported per day over the last 7 days (13,630) decreased considerably by 29% compared to the week before (19,333). This may also be a result of reduced reporting occurring during Songkran. As not all probable (ATK positive) cases are subsequently confirmed by PCR testing, the likely ‘total’ daily case counts remain high. While new cases may have declined or not been reported, severe and ventilated cases and deaths continue to increase, as they have been since the beginning of the year.
Bangkok continues to report the highest daily number of COVID cases and has reversed the last few weeks of average declines, with the average number of new COVID-19 cases reported per day for Bangkok in the past week (3,195) 1.9% higher than the week prior (3,136).
The average daily number of all currently ‘active’ COVID-19 cases (212,174) over the last seven days decreased by 13% compared to the previous week. Most cases continue to be monitored in hospitels, community isolation and home isolation. The average number of COVID cases occupying hospital beds per day over the past week (56,216) decreased by 11% compared with the week prior (63,425). The first-time average bed occupancy has been below 60,000 since the middle of February.
In the opposite direction, deaths increased by 24% with an average of 124 daily deaths reported in the past week compared to 100 for the previous week. This continues the steadily increasing rise in deaths that has occurred since January.
The average daily number of severe COVID-19 cases over the past seven days has passed two-thousand (2,062) for the first time since early November 2021, representing a 5% increase over the average number reported for the previous week (1,967). The average daily number of ventilated COVID-19 cases over the past seven days (897) represents an 8% increase over the average number reported for the week prior (633).
Although the number of seriously ill COVID-19 cases remains lower than the peak in August 2021, both severe and ventilated cases have been steadily climbing, with ventilated cases increasing faster and just 23% below their highest ever reported levels of August 2021. Despite these increases, there remains capacity in the healthcare system to admit patients.
The policy of not confirming by PCR testing for all probable cases, as well as the widespread use of rapid antigen tests (including those available ‘over the counter’ that may not be reported), continues to make it difficult to monitor the situation accurately. However, from the data reported, the increasing transmissibility of the Omicron variant is clear, with nearly half (49%, 1.8 million) of all COVID cases (4 million) in Thailand reported in the last 4-months from 1 January 2022, which was the time when the Omicron variant started to dominate circulation.
Even with the current high case burden of COVID-19, vaccination rates in Thailand continue to significantly reduce levels of severe illness and deaths caused by circulating COVID-19 strains.
High vaccination rates also help to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. However, vaccination rates are still low in some provinces and some important risk groups. The CCSA reported that of the 124 deaths reported on 18 April, 99% were in vulnerable groups, with 94% have not received a booster vaccination that is shown to be highly effective in preventing severe disease against the Omicron variant of concern.