For a while, earlier in the pandemic, face masks became fashion statements. Search for “fashion masks” on the online shopping platform Shopee and you are inundated with choice. Competing with surgical masks to adorn the faces of the masses, it did not matter much in a relatively Covid-free Thailand in 2020 which mask one chose — despite almost universal compliance with mask wearing, the risk of infection was low enough that it simply became an exercise in box-checking.
All of that is different now, of course, with the Omicron variant circulating freely in Thailand.
At this point, it is understandable that most are fatigued with reading about Covid. A year since the first case of Covid was discovered in Thailand, many are eager to get on with our lives. The government has set criteria for when it will declare Covid-19 an endemic disease. There is very little appetite for wide-ranging social restrictions. We have essentially arrived at the new normal: living with Covid-19.
Whether that is the right course is a matter best left for the experts. But it does beg the question: since restrictive public health interventions are now off the table, should we not have renewed discussion on how we approach less restrictive interventions that can still meaningfully impact the course of the pandemic?