6 June 2024

A senior Thai doctor is urging authorities to investigate the possible hoarding of medical oxygen tanks by profiteers, as the supply shortage is hindering operations at pre-admission centres, where some asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic patients are developing more severe symptoms and are in need of oxygen.

In his Facebook post yesterday (Wednesday), Associate Professor Nitipatana Chierakul, head of the Division of Respiratory Diseases and Tuberculosis, of the Faculty of Medicine at Mahidol University, said that the shortage could also be the result of people buying them, and oxygen generators, for use at home.

He warned, however, that the use of such devices at home, without supervision or instruction from medics, could be harmful to the patients if they are exposed to too much oxygen, adding that the uncontrolled use of the device is an unnecessary waste of money and may be a fire risk.

Dr. Nitipatana urged authorities to inform the public clearly about the risks of using medical oxygen tanks without supervision and to investigate if there is hoarding of the devices by traders or the producers.

One trader told Thai PBS that his store sold out of oxygen tanks two days ago, adding that he receives about 100 calls a day asking for the product and that numerous buyers have been Myanmar people, each buying 40-50 tanks to be sent back to Myanmar.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) Deputy Secretary-General, Dr. Surachoke Tangvivat, said today that antigen test kits are expected to be put on sale to the public at hospitals, clinics and pharmacies later this week. 

Three suppliers of the kits have already registered with the TFDA, with two more to be registered tomorrow.

He said that customers will be given instructions on how to use the kits properly adding, however, that online sale of the kits is prohibited.