Thailand to procure more COVID-19 test kits and speed up distribution amid new wave
To meet rising domestic demand, Thailand’s Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has instructed the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) to procure more rapid antigen test kits, or ATKs, and for the National Health Security Office (NHSO) to accelerate the distribution of about one million already in stock.
The minister did, however, offer an assurance that there are sufficient ATKs to meet the immediate demand and that he has not received any report of shortages.
The minister also stressed the Public Health Ministry’s new guidelines regarding the treatment of Omicron cases, saying that beds in general hospitals are reserved for severe cases, while asymptomatic and mild cases will be treated at home or in community isolation (CI) facilities.
He said hospitals have been instructed to stock up on medication and other necessities to cope with the new wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Director-General of Medical Services Department Dr. Somsak Akksilp disclosed today (Monday) that 22.7% of about 178,000 beds in general hospitals nationwide have been occupied as of yesterday, compared to 11% before the New Year, including 30.7% of the hospital beds in Bangkok.
He noted, however, that occupation rate of Level 2 and Level 3 hospital beds has slowed down since the New Year, compared to Level 1 beds, which has risen to about 34.1%.
Level 2 beds are meant for moderate cases while Level 3 are for severe cases.
Dr. Somsak explained why there are still Level 1 hospital beds available, saying they are intended for young children, people over 60, pregnant women and people suffering from any of seven underlying diseases.
He asked patients with mild symptoms or asymptomatic cases to enter home or CI facilities.
In Bangkok today, 2,682 people have entered home isolation, 163 have entered CI facilities and 82 are in field hospitals.