Gadgets that have become vital in the COVID-19 era
Ever since the arrival of COVID-19 early last year, people have been taking precautions to protect themselves. Facemasks and alcohol sanitizing gel have become indispensable parts of our everyday lives. Yet, Thailand’s daily caseload of infections and fatalities has soared in recent months, compelling people to look for more ways to protect themselves.
Thermometers, pulse oximeters, and oxygen concentrators have been flying off the shelves, so people, even those who don’t test positive, can keep track of their health.
While most Thais are familiar with the thermometer, not many kept one at home before the COVID-19 crisis. Most people were happy to check their or other’s temperature by placing a hand on the forehead, and if their symptoms worsened, they could always have their temperature checked and get treated at a nearby hospital.
Now, as the daily caseload of new COVID-19 patients surges above 20,000, going to the hospital is no longer advisable. Also, many hospitals have advised people to sign up for telemedicine services or to postpone their medical appointments where possible to lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Besides, many COVID-19 patients are being forced to look after themselves because immediate help from relevant authorities is no longer available. In fact, some patients have reportedly waited for several days and even weeks before receiving a response from relevant health agencies.
To properly monitor their condition, COVID-19 patients isolating at home should keep track of their body temperature – and for that, they need a thermometer. The normal temperature for the human body ranges from 36.5 to 37.5 degrees Celsius. If that temperature rises to 39 degrees Celsius, then it’s a sign that the lungs may have been infected.
The Public Health Ministry has promised to provide a thermometer to everyone who registers for home isolation.
Along with the thermometer, the pulse oximeter is another important device for COVID-19 patients and is part of the self-care pack given to COVID-19 patients who register for home isolation.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak began, few Thais were familiar with this device. Now, however, it is a common sight and is flying off the shelves of pharmacies and supermarkets. Prices range from hundreds to thousands of baht depending on the design and brand.
A pulse oximeter measures the level of oxygen in the blood painlessly – all you need to do is place the tip of your finger in the device. The normal reading is between 95 and 100 percent. If the reading of a COVID-19 patient drops below that level, it is an indication they need urgent medical help.
Oxygen concentrator filters and concentrates oxygen molecules from the ambient air to provide the patient with 90 to 95 percent pure oxygen. The outbreak has made these devices very popular, with many families buying one just in case. Prices start from slightly over Bt1,000 to several thousand baht depending on the quality and capacity of the device.
Several charity and volunteer networks have been delivering these devices to severely ill COVID-19 patients in a bid to keep them alive.
Use with caution
While these devices are useful, people are urged to study relevant information to ensure proper usage and storage. For instance, an oxygen concentrator cannot be used near an open flame or while smoking as oxygen aids combustion.
It is also best to consult a medical expert before using the oxygen concentrator because too much or too little oxygen can be harmful to health.
By Thai PBS World’s General Desk