Medical expert sees worst case scenario if “stay at home” directive ignored
A leading medical expert has painted a grim scenario for the COVID-19 situation in Thailand over the next 30 days if people do not follow the advice to stay at home.
Professor Dr. Prasit Wattanapa, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital, said the exponential jump in the number of infection cases is posing grave concern.
Dr. Prasit is one of the well-respected medical experts who have been advising Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on measures to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
He noted that during January and February, the rate of infections was stable, at about 40. In March, however, infections jumped, largely due to two clusters, namely those linked to the Lumpini boxing stadium and those associated with entertainment venues.
The world is divided into two groups of nations. The first comprises most countries in Europe, where the contagion is out of control, and the other group comprises countries where the virus is now under control, which include South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong.
The “Golden Period” means the period when infections exceed 100, the tipping point to determine which country will end up which group.
The countries where infections are beyond control are those which record a jump in new infections of between 100 and 200 within three days, compared to five days for countries which manage to contain the virus spread.
In the case of Thailand, Dr. Prasit said the rate of new infections is now between 100 and 200 in 3.5 days, which means that there is a likelihood that Thailand will fall into the first group.
If this situation is allowed to continue, with people insisting on living as normal and not staying at home, the new infection rate in Thailand will jump by 33% per day. At this rate, infections in Thailand will soar to 351,948 by April 15th. There will be 52,792 patients in hospital, including 17,597 in intensive care units, and 7,039 fatalities.
If everyone stays at home, however, the infection rate will not exceed 20% and, by April 15th, there will be about 24,269 infections “which is our target now,” he said. We could expect to have 3,640 patients in hospital, including 1,213 in ICU and 485 fatalities.
He noted that 17,597 people requiring in-patient treatment will be beyond the capacity of the health system. The severe cases, whose lung function has been severely impacted by the virus, need life-support equipment and Thailand will become a “second Italy”, where doctors will have to decide whom to treat first.