Health officials in Thailand have forecast that at least 400,000 people may be diagnosed with the coronavirus, COVID-19, by the end of next year.
According to the Emergency Response Center of the Department of Disease Control, Thailand has used data from China, Canada, Hungary, Sweden and the World Health Organization, as well as data from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, to try and predict how many people will become infected with the virus.
Officials are working on three scenarios.
The first scenarios, which health officials believe is most likely, is that up to 400,000 people will become infected with the virus by the end of 2020 and that after an initial spike in cases, the number of infections will settle, with the virus becoming a seasonal disease like common influenza. This prediction is based on each infected person going on to infect a further 1.6 people.
The second scenario estimates as many as 9.9 million people infected with the virus by the end of 2020, with cases peaking between Thailand’s cool period – next January and February.
The third scenario, deemed to be the worst case scenario and the one which officials believe is least likely to occur, is that as many as 16 million people will be infected with the coronavirus by the end of next year.
Health officials say across all predictions, the number of critical COVID-19 cases is around 5 percent of those infected, while the mortality rate is around 2 percent.
Officials also stress that the number of predicted cases will be greatly reduced if the public adhere to the preventive measures put in place by the government to help reduce the spread of the virus.
On Tuesday, the Thai government announced that all schools and entertainment venues will close in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces. Pattaya and Phuket have also announced that its bars, nightclubs and entertainment venues will be closed until 31 March.
Meanwhile, screening has been stepped up at border points nationwide, with foreign tourists required to show a medical certificate to prove they do not have COVID-19, as well as proof they have medical insurance. They will also be asked to download a mobile app so they can be monitored after arriving in the country.
While the Thai government has placed no restrictions on travel within the country, and restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores remain open, people are urged to undertake so-called ‘social distancing’ by keeping a distance of at least 1 metre between themselves and others when outside, especially from those coughing or sneezing.
People are also urged to wear a face mask when outside and regularly wash their hands with soap and water and an alcohol based hand sanitizer.