11 July 2024

8.5 million COVID rapid antigen test kits (ATKs) purchased from China will be distributed to members of the public free of charge, starting on September 16th.

The National Health Security Office (NHSO) will meet with representatives of hospitals, community clinics, pharmacies and health service centres to make final arrangements.

The public can obtain the ATKs from health offices across the country, pharmacies, hospitals and clinics which join the ATK distribution program, after they register through “Mor Prom” app.

NHSO Secretary-General Dr. Jadet Thammathat-Aree said today that it is anticipated that between 5% and 10% of high-risk groups who take the antigen test will test positive for the virus and about 80% of the infected will be asymptomatic.

“5% of 8.5 million ATKs (425,000), will be a huge number of new infections,” he said, adding that these infections will be treated as “probable cases” and be subject to RT-PCR tests for confirmation.

New infections will definitely spike, said Dr. Jadet, adding that, if these people are admitted into the health system for care, such as in home or community isolation, the death toll will not be high “as fatalities are our main concern.”

Under the arrangements being worked out, those testing positive via ATKs can contact their nearest clinic, where they obtained the test kit, for processing to enter home or community isolation. They can either call the NHSO’s 1330 extension 14 hotline or visit the NHSO website.

Dr. Jadet said that, within a day, those infected will be admitted to home or community isolation facilities, where they will receive three meals a day for free during their isolation period, free medication and medical devices, such as thermometers and fingertip oximeters.

He noted that, even though there is more empty space in the hospitals, as more patients have been discharged, there are people who feel more comfortable being isolated at home.

The procurement of the ATKs from China’s Lepu Medical Technology has been met with some opposition as the kits do not meet WHO standards, but the cabinet eventually approved the purchase.