11 July 2024

An urgent directive has been issued by Public Health Permanent Secretary Kiattibhoom Vongrachit to all state hospitals, instructing them to prepare spare beds, equipment, medication and manpower to cope with a potential new wave of COVID-19 infections.

According to the directive, more COVID-19 infections have been detected lately and more patients are being admitted to hospitals.

Under the directive, all hospitals must advise their personnel to protect themselves and be prepared to cope with more patients, including spare beds, especially for severe cases, and to prepare for the transfer of some severely ill patients to other hospitals, which are better equipped to deal with them.

Hospitals have also been advised to provide vaccine boosters for their staff and to urge members of the public to receive boosters.

Meanwhile, Dr. Nitipat Jiarakul, chief of the Respiratory Disease and Tuberculosis Division in the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital, claimed that the actual number of new infections is estimated at tens of thousands, which is much higher than the figures being reported on daily basis by the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), at below 2,000 cases each day this week.

“It is about time for the government to be truthful with the public and to warn them to be prepared to face the situation,” he said, as he stressed the need for him openly declare what he says is the truth.

He said that the situation has become tense again, making it necessary for every individual and every sector of society to help and to prevent an exacerbation of the problem.

He disclosed that several major hospitals in Bangkok, and in some other provinces have, of late, admitted more COVID-19 cases for treatment, mostly suffering from other diseases as well, resulting in medical personnel having to work harder and a substantial reduction in vacant hospital beds.

Dr. Nitipat said that the actual bed situation is in contrast with the claim that bed occupancy rate is still low.

Although the new surge in COVID-19 cases is not as serious as it was during the peak of the Omicron variant wave, he said that Thailand has already used a huge amount of resources to cope with the disease.

He urged all sectors of Thai society to join forces in another bid to contain the new surge of infections. Failing that, he warned, there will be more fatalities and more severe cases abandoned at home or in the community.

Thailand has already lifted most COVID-19 restrictions, citing lower rates of infections and fatalities, allowing the tourism-reliant economy to recover. The mask mandate has been lifted and the wearing of masks is now voluntary. The “Thailand Pass” requirement for international arrivals has also been dropped, while pubs and bars have resumed normal operations.