COVID infection risk raised back to ‘Level 4’ in Thailand
The Thai Ministry of Public Health has once again upgraded the risk of COVID-19 infection to Level 4, the second highest level, across the country, as 90% of new infections are now by the Omicron variant.
The ministry previously raised the alert to Level 4 on January 6, before dropping it to Level 3 on January 20.
Deputy Public Health Permanent Secretary Dr. Thongchai Keeratihattayakorn said today (Monday) that it is anticipated that the infection rate will remain high for the next 1-2 weeks, as he urged the public to avoid crowded places, refrain from social gatherings, to work from home and to delay interprovincial travel.
Cases of the BA.2 sub variant of Omicron, which is about 1.4 times more transmissible than the BA.1 strain, has increased by 50% in Thailand. Both the strains are found in Thailand and are equally potent, according to the Disease Control Department.
Meanwhile, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has signed a ministerial announcement, effective from March 1, under which all Thais will still have access to medical care for COVID-19 infections, but the services provided will be in accordance with their respective entitlements.
There are currently various medical schemes for Thai people, such as the social security scheme for working people who have made contributions to the scheme from their salaries, the universal health scheme, previously known as the gold card, for the general public who are not covered by the social security scheme, and the medical scheme for state officials.
The public health minister explained that the ministry’s basic guideline for the treatment of COVID-19 patients is that the treatments are commensurate with the level of sickness, which means asymptomatic and mild cases must be treated in home isolation as the first choice or in community isolation facilities.
For these patients in the capital, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and the National Health Security Office (NHSO) will be responsible for taking care of them and both have been instructed to increase their hotline services for arranging for patients to enter home or community isolation.
Only severe cases will be admitted to general or field hospitals, to ease their workload in anticipation of an increase in cases, as the Omicron variant is spreading steadily.
Anutin also said that Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients (UCEP) remains in place for those who have other underlying diseases, adding that these patients are entitled to free medical services, including in hospitals, if their conditions are serious.
For the treatment of those infected with COVID-19, the Department of Thai Traditional and Complementary Medicine has procured about 10 million doses of the Fah Talai Jone herbal medicine for patients in home isolation.
Treatment of COVID-19 patients in accordance with their entitlements will help reduce the government’s hefty medical bill because, over the past two years, almost every patient could be admitted to a hospital.