Little evidence of severe illness but start of new school term calls for vigilance, say doctors
A new strain of Covid-19 has not proved to be severe, but it could still spread among children as the school term resumes, according to health authorities.
Experts worldwide are monitoring the situation relating to the emerging XBB.220.127.116.11 or FU.1 strain, said Dr Supakit Sirilak, director-general of the Department of Medical Sciences.
The strain is spreading 50% faster than XBB.1.16 and one case of the emerging strain has been confirmed in the country, he said on Thursday.
“Although it is spreading fast, there has not been evidence that it could cause severe illnesses and considerable fatalities,” Dr Supakit said.
Outbreaks might also result from other factors including more gatherings of crowds and reduced use of face masks, he said.
Dr Chakkarat Pitayawong-anont, epidemiology director at the Department of Disease Control, said new Covid cases were rising because disease control measures had been relaxed, fewer people are wearing face masks, there are many crowded activities and people are losing Covid-19 antibodies as their last vaccinations took place long ago.
Lack of antibodies might cause severe symptoms in infected people, especially vulnerable ones who should thus receive booster shots or long-acting antibodies, he said.
Dr Chakkarat warned that Covid cases could rise among children as their new school term has started.
The Department of Disease Control has been receiving reports on Covid-19 clusters at primary schools in Bangkok and other provinces, he said.
Infected children would not develop serious symptoms and could recover. However, they could transmit the disease to their grandparents, Dr Chakkarat said.