BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Hospitals are making special preparations for the start of the school year next month, as data shows more than half of children killed by Covid-19 are under five years old.
The Omicron variant has caused the number of childhood Covid-19 infections to surge, government spokesman Ratchada Thanadirek said on Saturday (April 23).
In January, more than half of children who died from Covid-19 were under five years old - too young to be vaccinated. The government is urging parents to get vaccinated while instructing public hospitals to launch a special treatment system for children infected after the school year starts.
Hospitals have been ordered to arrange beds, medical personnel and a transfer system in case of a rapid rise in the number of severely ill children.
The government is also hastening the vaccination of children aged five to 11 at schools.
Meanwhile, the Public Health Ministry's Immunity Promotion Subcommittee has proposed boosting fully vaccinated children aged 12 to 17 with a half or full dose of the Pfizer vaccine after an interval of four to six months.
Vaccination points at schools will administer half doses from May 9, with another half dose available at local hospitals after the appropriate interval.
Since the start of the pandemic, Thailand has recorded the eighth-highest number of Covid-19 deaths in the world, Dr Thira Worathanarat, a Chulalongkorn University lecturer, said in a Facebook post on Saturday.
The number of Covid-19 deaths spiked in Thailand this week after the Songkran holiday this month to celebrate the Thai New Year, he added.
New infections dropped by 19 per cent this week, but the number of Covid-19 deaths increased by 22 per cent from a week earlier, said the public health academic as he warned people to stay vigilant and protect themselves against the virus.
Dr Thira said the Omicron variant will continue to spread and likely mutate into more subvariants. However, symptoms should not be much worse, while more efficient vaccines and medicines will become available, he added.
Dr Thira said he was waiting for the results of a study on whether the Omicron variant caused a greater risk of long Covid than other variants.
Thailand logged 20,052 new Covid-19 infections and 129 deaths on Saturday.