Thai health official raises travel alert over 2 new subvariants
Thailand has been advised to consider quarantining travellers from South Africa and Portugal after recent reports show that the more infectious BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants are fast spreading there.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) recently named BA.4 and BA.5 as variants of concern.
Public Health Commission vice-chairman Chalermchai Boonyaleephan said on Monday that the Omicron BA.2 subvariant is the dominant strain in many countries, including Thailand.
However, both BA.4 and BA.5 that have been found in South Africa spread faster than the BA.1 subvariant and can infect people despite them being vaccinated or being infected with Covid-19 earlier.
He also predicted that the BA.5 subvariant will become the dominant strain in Portugal by Sunday (May 22) as 37 per cent of the population is already infected with the BA.5 subvariant.
“Thailand should consider quarantining tourists from Portugal and South Africa or at least having them undergo RT-PCR tests to prevent these subvariants from entering the country,” he said.
He added that ECDC has warned European countries to beware of these subvariants and has advised both countries to give the elderly and people with chronic diseases a fourth jab.
“The World Health Organisation, however, has not named BA.4 and BA.5 as variants of concern yet,” he added.
Separately, leading virologist Dr Yong Poovorawan said an mRNA booster for people whose first two jabs are inactivated vaccines helps boost immunity against Covid-19 effectively.
“The immunity provided by a Pfizer booster after receiving two Sinovac or Sinopharm jabs is similar to three Pfizer jabs,” he said, citing a study conducted by Chulalongkorn University's Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology, which he heads. He added that this combination should also provide high immunity to children.