Emerging infectious diseases expert warns “Time is running out for Thailand”
Chulalongkorn University’s Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases chief, Dr. Thiravat Hemachudha, has warned the Thai government that time is running out for Thailand if it does not immediately close its borders to all arrivals.
A vocal advocate of the measure, Dr. Thiravat gave the following reasons for his advice, to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Thailand, in his Facebook post today.
- Medicines to treat viral infections, Lopinavir/ritonavir, which were originally believed to be effective against the virus, have proven to be ineffective, according to the latest New England Journal. This leaves Chloroquine, which is used to treat malaria, and Favipiravir, which is only produced in China and Japan. Current supplies of Favipiravir, however, are only enough for 600-700 patients, who each require about 70 tablets. What if there are tens of thousands of patients?
- The current national health system has only about 100 negative pressure rooms for the treatment of infected patients. Are there enough appropriately equipped hospital rooms to accommodate all patients? If the hospitals do not have separate air-conditioning systems, there is a likelihood that the virus will rapidly spread to other rooms.
- There are only about 30,000 doctors, working in various fields, throughout the country, including fewer than 1,000 lung disease specialists. In a crisis, doctors who are not specialists may become victims of the virus and increase the burden. Thailand’s medical personnel are already over stretched.
- It is time for Thailand to take whatever measures are necessary to prevent the virus from overwhelming the country’s healthcare system.
“If we remain a step behind, by only considering the numbers of new infections and deaths without realizing that this is a highly transmissible disease, infecting one person after another in a chain effect, it will be difficult to stem the spread of the disease,” said Dr. Thiravat, as he urged the Government to learn from the Chinese, who adopted a stringent lockdown and succeeded in turning the tide of the pandemic, compared to those countries which did not follow the Chinese model.
“Time is running out,” he warned.