Delta Plus Variant Won’t Stop Tourist Plan

Dr Supakit Sirilak
Supakit Sirilak, director-general of the Department of Medical Sciences

Detection of the first case of the Delta Plus variant of COVID-19 in Thailand will not affect the country’s plan to reopen to international tourists on 1st November, the Public Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

“Because viruses mutate all the time, only a mutation that causes severe illness and makes the virus spread easier or become resistant to drugs that treat the Alpha and Delta variants [of SARS-CoV-2] are considered significant,” said Deputy Public Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha.

The discovery of Delta Plus, deemed a minor variant of the virus, will not disrupt the planned reopening of the country, Mr Pitutecha said.

The first Delta Plus infection was reported for the sake of ensuring transparency in information about COVID-19 in Thailand, which is necessary for prospective visitors to Thailand to know, he said.

From 1st November, Thailand will begin welcoming visitors from 45 low-risk countries and one special administrative region without requiring them to spend time in COVID-19 quarantine if they are fully vaccinated and have tested negative for COVID-19 before travelling.

But they must stay at a designated hotel for one night while waiting for the result of a COVID-19 test done upon arrival, Mr Pitutecha said. After they have been cleared of having COVID-19, they will then be allowed to travel freely in the country, he added.

The male patient found to have been infected with the Delta Plus variant was staying in Kamphaeng Phet. The man received treatment and has recovered, said Supakit Sirilak, director-general of the Department of Medical Sciences.

A further investigation is underway to find out if any of the patient’s close contacts were infected, said Dr Sirilak.

The patient had travelled to Kamphaeng Phet from Ayutthaya before he exhibited symptoms. He underwent a test carried out by the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences last month, he said.

The Delta Plus variant detected in this patient, however, was identified to be the AY.1 Delta Plus strain, not the AY.4.2 Delta Plus variant which is prevalent in Britain and believed to be 10% to 15% more contagious than the common Delta variant, said the doctor.