Government launches outpatient service as it prepares to make Covid-19 endemic


Thailand’s Public Health Ministry has launched a new outpatient treatment scheme for Covid-19, as it prepares to transition the virus to endemic status. Dr Kiattiphum Wongrajit says the Outpatient under Self-Isolation scheme should replace the current home isolation programme for most patients.

According to a Bangkok Post report, Kiattiphum says around 95% of cases are now either asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms. In cases like this, there is no need for people to be treated in hospital. He says fewer than 1% of infections are causing moderate or critical illness, prompting the ministry to launch the new service.

He explains that in the earlier stages of the pandemic, officials didn’t have the information they have now and this meant once people became infected, they had to be hospitalised. However, the arrival of the milder Omicron variant has led to changes in the policy used to manage the Delta wave. The milder illness means officials are hopeful they will be able to declare Covid-19 endemic in the coming months.

“We need people to change their mindset when it comes to the right medical treatment for Covid-19 as an endemic disease.”

Kiattiphum says changing how patients are treated will ease the financial burden on the government, which has spent over 130 billion baht treating more than 2 million Covid patients since the start of the pandemic 2 years ago. The shift means patients will front these costs themselves, either through their health insurance, or with the help of schemes like the 30-baht universal healthcare package.

Under the Outpatient under Self-Isolation scheme, Covid patients will be given prescription drugs, if necessary, as well as a transfer between facilities, and receive a one-time follow-up call within 48 hours. However, the scheme does not cover the cost of medical equipment or food. Patients will be required to remain at home for 7 days and monitor their symptoms as well as carrying out 2 antigen tests.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Maya Taylor

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