There is no need to completely close schools where COVID-19 cases are found, because most already have effective control measures in place to halt the spread of any infection, a senior Health Ministry official said on Wednesday.
Sumanee Wacharasin, hazards communication director of the ministry’s Department of Disease Control, said on Wednesday that almost all schools had passed COVID-19 control evaluation.
As of Tuesday, 95% of students aged 12 years or more had received their first COVID-19 vaccine shot and 70% were fully vaccinated.
Staff had also been vaccinated and school managements had COVID-19 response measures ready, including the temporary closure of individual classrooms where infections were found.
“Under these circumstances, it is unnecessary to completely close any school because of COVID-19 infection, regardless of the number of cases. Closure would affect the education of students whose studies have already been seriously disrupted over the past two years,” Dr Wacharasin said.
Regarding vaccination of children aged 5-11 years, the government had ordered the Pfizer mRNA vaccine made especially for the young and it would arrive either late this month or next month, Dr Wacharasin said.
Inoculations would start with children aged 11 and then proceed with younger ones in a descending order of ages.
She said officials were still in the process of approving the use of inactivated vaccines for young children.
According to Dr Wacharasin, on 7th January there were 7,526 local COVID-19 infections and they included 1,048 people under the age of 19 years, or 13.9% of all local infections.
From 26th December to 1st January, the most infections among people aged 6-18 years were in Bangkok, with 282, followed by 105 in Chon Buri, 91 in Ubon Ratchathani, 60 in Samut Prakan, 56 in Phangnga, 52 in Kalasin, 51 in Phuket and 50 each in Khon Kaen, Phatthalung and Roi Et.
The most common cause of infection among the young was contact with infected people, mainly other family members, Dr Wacharasin said.
On Tuesday there were new COVID-19 clusters at schools in three provinces – six cases in Chanthaburi, five in Bangkok and two in Nonthaburi, she said.