11 July 2024

Thailand’s National Health Security Office (NHSO), which has run the home isolation program for COVID-19 patients at a total cost of more than 150 billion baht, has decided to shut the program down today (Thursday), said Medical Service Department Director-General Dr. Somsak Akksilp today.

He also said that the NHSO board will meet on Monday to scrap the free distribution of rapid antigen test kits to members of the public via selected drug stores, noting that, in accordance with the Medical Service Department’s regulation, rapid antigen test kits will be administered only when a patient has developed symptoms.

According to NHSO Deputy Secretary-General Dr. Atthaporn Limpanyalert, COVID-19 patients can still get access to hospitals for treatment in accordance with their entitlements, such as the Gold Card, the standard social security scheme or the health security scheme for government officials.

Suspected infected people will be administered rapid antigen tests and, if the test results are positive, they will be given medication, but if their condition is serious, they will be admitted for treatment, said Dr. Atthaporn.

The home isolation program was introduced in 2021, when hospitals were so overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients that there were not enough beds to accommodate them during the peak of the pandemic. Patients with mild symptoms were told to stay at home under the program, but the NHSO arranged for health officials to monitor their condition and to supply them with medication and other necessities.

Meanwhile Dr. Yong Poovorawan, head of the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology at Faculty of Medicine of Chulalongkorn University, said in his Facebook post today that that the fatality rate of COVID-19 in Thailand is less than 0.1% and most of those were over 60, pregnant women or those with underlying diseases and people who have not received their vaccine booster shots.

He suggested that everyone should receive at least three vaccine doses, or they could receive 4th or 5th doses, depending on when they received their most recent dose.

According to the COVID-19 Information Centre, there were 14 fatalities and 2,695 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours and 4,034 cases of positive rapid antigen tests.