12 July 2024

The Thai Ministry of Public Health launched out-patient medical services today (Tuesday) for people infected with COVID-19 who exhibit no or only mild symptoms, to ensure that all Thais have free access to medical care if they test positive for the virus.

Director-general of the Medical Services Department Dr. Somsak Akksilp said that since about 90% of people infected by the Omicron variant are asymptomatic or develop only mild symptoms, they are entitled to free medical services provided by the state, but they don’t need to be admitted to hospitals, to keep beds available for those who are severely ill.

The out-patient medical services, such as the Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) clinics and the Patient Under Investigation (PUI) facilities at all hospitals, represent an alternative for COVID-19 patients with no or minimal symptoms. They will be given a COVID-19 test and medication, so they can look after themselves at home.

Patients who are considered to be at high risk, such as those suffering from underlying diseases, but who have only mild symptoms may be admitted to “hospitels” or hotel isolation, while those who develop serious symptoms will be admitted to hospitals, said Dr. Somsak.

Treatment guidelines have recently been revised to cope with four categories of people who test positive for COVID-19 with rapid antigen kits.

According to the Medical Services Department’s working committee on the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases, the first category includes asymptomatic cases or those with mild symptoms. Such patients will be isolated at home and will not be given anti-viral Favipiravir, as the symptoms will gradually subside and because the drug may cause side effects such as nausea and vomiting and affect the foetus in pregnant women.

The second category covers patients who do not develop serious symptoms, lung infections or are at risk of serious disease. They will be given Favipiravir and told to stop the use of the Fah Talai Jone herbal treatment if they are using it.

The third category includes those with non-serious symptoms who are at risk of developing serious symptoms or have a lung infection

The fourth category covers those with very serious symptoms.

The last two categories will be considered for admission to hospitals and will be given appropriate medications.