Thailand airports randomly testing travellers from S'pore & Hong Kong for XBB Omicron

Data shows travellers who were in Singapore were carrying the XBB strain.

Belmont Lay | October 15, 2022, 04:13 PM

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Airports in Thailand are resorting to randomly testing passengers from Singapore and Hong Kong who show signs of respiratory symptoms for the Omicron XBB variant, according to Bangkok Post.

Omicron XBB, currently the predominant subvariant circulating in Singapore, is a combination of Omicron's BJ.1 and BA.2.75 variants -- descendants of the earlier Omicron BA.2 sub-type, which is itself about 50 per cent more contagious than the BA.1 subvariant.

Why test travellers from Singapore and Hong Kong?

According to Thailand's Department of Disease Control (DCD), information it obtained revealed a total of 29 people who arrived in Hong Kong had tested positive for the XBB strain.

Out of these, 24 were detected on arrival and five others tested positive on their second day in Hong Kong.

Most of these cases in Hong Kong, CDC shared, had returned from Singapore and three from Thailand.

Thai health authorities are investigating the three XBB cases from Thailand, adding that there was no local transmission of this subvariant locally there yet, and that the subvariant did not lead to more severe health outcomes, as per information from other territories.

"Thailand has stepped up surveillance at Suvarnabhumi airport and all other airports,” Sophon Iamsirithaworn, DDC deputy director-general, said.

“Any arrivals from Singapore, Hong Kong and countries with XBB outbreaks who have respiratory symptoms... will be randomised for variant examination at the Department of Medical Sciences."

The BA.5 subvariant remained as the dominant strain in Thailand, which has seen new Covid-19 cases and deaths fall over time.

Top photo via Unsplash