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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Anutin says health system won’t collapse despite shortages

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: ICU beds are full in some hospitals but Anutin says things are ok. (via Facebook Kunlasub Wattnaphon)

After senior doctors said the Covid-19 outbreak situation was critical and suggesting a one-week lockdown in Bangkok, Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul reassured people that the health system will not collapse. With a rise in new Covid-19 infections, available hospital beds are getting scarce and there are shortages of medical staff, despite the reassurances of Anutin.

Anutin scolded those worrying about shortages that they should not use the word “collapse” when discussing Thailand’s public health system. He asks they instead work together to improve the situation and suggests the possibility of mobilising all national health personnel and resources.

Despite Public Health Minister Anutin putting on a smiling face, reports from the ground suggest shortages and a much more dire situation. At Ramathibodi Hospital, the head of the emergency medicine division took to Facebook to warn people to keep their guard up and follow Covid-19 safety precautions. He said that the ICU beds are full and staff have to begin to make the tough choices of who will receive intensive care treatment and who won’t due to space restrictions.

Covid-19 testing was cancelled for 4 days this week at Chulalongkorn University because of bed and staffing shortages. The chief of the Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases there said that many people returned later in worse condition after being turned away earlier. He laments that the passive screening in place instead has been proven ineffective and can’t stop outbreaks from spreading.

The Public Health Minister says the suggested lockdown could be considered but must be weighed against the economic effects of a lockdown. Anutin claimed ignorance of any hospital shortages driving the suspension of testing, despite viral stories online. Even the director-general of the Department of Medical Services warned that Bangkok state hospitals only had 23 beds left for severe patients and that things would get much worse at the current rate of infection.

While they scramble to increase beds, they may reduce the 14-day treatment period to 10 days and send patients home to self-isolate, and free up 40% more beds for more mild Covid-19 infections. The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration has told all agencies to focus on procuring more beds for severe patients in Bangkok and the surrounding area.

The Public Health Ministry is working to upgrade several area hospitals to hold severe Covid-19 infections. Bang Khun Thian Geriatric Hospital, Ratchaphiphat Hospital, Mongkutwattana Hospital, Thon Buri Hospital, Thammasat University Hospital, Ramathibodi Hospital and Vajira Hospital are all in preparation to being to host or expand capacity to house Covid-19 patients.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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    Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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