The Omicron variant of COVID-19 spreads faster than the Delta variant. It stays in the upper respiratory tract and does not attack the lungs, according to the Thailand Department of Medical Sciences.
Dr. Supakit Sirilak, director-general of the department, said the Omicron variant mostly stayed in the upper respiratory tract. It spreads 70 times faster than the Delta variant. However, the Omicron variant did not harm lungs like the Delta variant is known for.
In Thailand, 50% of those diagnosed with the Delta variant were admitted to hospitals while the rate among Omicron cases was 20-25%.
The percentage of Omicron cases allocated to arriving travelers rose from 25% to 53%. Of 205 Omicron cases in the Kingdom, 180 were visitors and 25 others were Thais who had not left the country but had met with visitors.
It can only be assumed a similar trend is true in other regions popular with travelers. In Hawaii for example, more than 2205 COVID cases were registered on Sunday alone. Compared to 100 cases a day just a year ago that caused the entire State of Hawaii into a lockdown, a number of 2205 is beyond imagination. At the same time, Hawaii is expecting a record number of visitors to arrive for New Year. The entire population for the Aloha State is less than 1.5 million.
In France, the worst record of an increase since the outbreak has been a reality today.
A new reality for tourism?
Not only in Thailand, France, or Hawaii, it appears COVID cannot be stopped. Vaccination will reduce the risk of a serious outcome. Like the flu and other viruses, Omicron is teaching us the lesson of a new reality for tourism.
Masks help to protect others, N-95 or KN-95 masks help to also protect yourself. Washing hands and social distancing is a plus.
With a new Pfizer pill preventing a serious development when catching the virus, COVID-19 and specifically Omicron now can be managed.
Perhaps a grim reality is, that most humans will eventually catch the virus, and a small number will get very sick and an even smaller number won’t survive.
This is a new reality, but not different or scarier compared to the flu and many other known diseases.
How should tourism leaders concentrate on making this new reality work?
Looking at the numbers spreading currently, one can question if it makes sense to hide from catching the virus?
Political leaders and tourism professionals are starting to understand this new reality. Without saying, they are already implementing the idea that activities and the economy must go on.
There will be no longer avoidable damages, illnesses, and deaths. They will be part of the new reality and should be part of the new plan.
Contact tracing is becoming impossible, and so are lock-downs and restrictions.
It appears the key is vaccination, booster, a pill to treat, enjoying life, and common sense.
Juergen Steinmetz, the author of this article, and Chairman of the World Tourism Network .
WTN wants a new discussion considering the true situation, considering what is possible and what is not possible, and considering moving forward in bringing the travel and tourism industry on track, partnering with the new reality COVID-19 and Omicron is dictating, without a submission.