11 July 2024

Samut Sakhon governor Veerasak Vichitsangsri has decided to bypass ministerial red tape to speed up the admission of asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic COVID-19 patients to pre-admission centres, to prevent the spread of the contagion among family members.

“If regulations cause people to die, because there is no place for isolation, just bypass the regulations and say this is a must, because I am the one who gave the order. Let’s see which is more important – regulations or death,” wrote the governor in his Facebook post on Wednesday.

COVID-19 infections in this coastal province, known as Thailand’s largest seafood market and the hotbed of the second wave of the pandemic last December, are spreading rapidly, logging more than 900 new cases daily over the past several days.

The governor has ordered health officials to allow asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic cases into the province’s pre-admission centres without the need for X-rays, as mandated by the Public Health Ministry, noting that the process takes time and will pose an obstacle to separating the infected from those who are still safe.

The pre-admission centres are mostly manned by medical personnel and are for people in the community to be treated with medication in line with their symptoms. If their condition worsens, they are sent to a general or field hospital.

There are currently 26 pre-admission centres in Samut Sakhon, with 3,975 beds in total. So far, 802 people have been admitted.

Governor Veerasak is no stranger to COVID-19. He spent almost three months being treated for a severe COVID-19 infection at Siriraj Hospital, including 42 days on a ventilator. He was discharged from hospital in mid-March.

Samut Sakhon is one of the 13 maximum controlled and restricted, or “Dark Red” zones. The province logged 1,067 news cases on Friday, which is only second to Bangkok, with accumulated infections of 21,524 since April.