COVID-19 will be labelled an endemic disease in Thailand starting in July, allowing people to return to a normal life, the Ministry of Public Health said yesterday.
Dr Kiattiphum Wongrajit, the ministry’s permanent secretary, said the national communicable disease committee has agreed with the ministry’s plan that the pandemic designation in the country will end in June.
Under the change, there will be no need for ATK testing for tourists and people will no longer be required to wear facemasks in public, except for those who are sick.
“Social distancing and mask-wearing should only be done in areas of risk or at large gatherings,” Dr Wongrajit said.
“The ministry recommends people keep practising basic universal preventive measures to help curb the further spread of the disease.”
The ministry has been weighing up whether to declare COVID-19 as endemic, after observing that the disease’s mortality rate had fallen to 0.18% of total cases nationwide.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has suggested the number of deaths should not be over 0.1% for endemic diseases.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the ministry is still implementing measures to manage the disease to ensure that people can return to normal life after the pandemic ends.
He suggested that senior citizens should ensure they are fully vaccinated as fast as possible to reduce the mortality rate, as most of the deaths are among the elderly.
Meanwhile, as announced by the government previously, a health official said that from 16th March, COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms will no longer be eligible for free COVID-19 treatment under the Ucep Plus programme and will have to use medical services based on their health insurance scheme instead.