With the Omicron variant rapidly spreading across Thailand, the need for Covid-19 testing not just once but frequently has become more and more vital. Antigen test kits have become a crucial tool f0r easy and fast home testing and the availability of ATKs in pharmacies across the country, even being stocked in 7-Eleven now, is a monumental step in encouraging self-testing that can quickly identify and contain Covid-19 outbreaks.
But now the government is recognizing that the increased demand for testing amid surging Covid-19 daily infection numbers has caused the prices being charged for these vital ATKs to spike as well. So authorities are calling on the Ministry of Commerce and other commercial affairs agencies to step in and regulate the pricing of these Covid-19 test kits.
PM Prayut Chan-o-cha announced through a deputy government spokesperson that has ordered the Ministry of Commerce to impose regulations on the sale of home antigen test kits in order to avoid price surges and gouging during emergency Covid-19 pandemic times.
The Prime Minister tasked the Commerce Ministry with guaranteeing public access to the test devices that could potentially save thousands of lives through early identification and slowing Covid-19 spread. He instructed them to re-implement policies that reduce the retail price of the ATKs and stop any sellers from gouging customers with increased prices during times of high need.
The government also sent a message specifically to those retail shops that sell ATKs asking them to be reasonable and fair with their customers and not take advantage of a growing medical situation. Raising prices to increase profits could potentially discourage those who suspect they may have a Covid-19 infection but don’t want to pay the jacked-up prices to take a test, which could result in prolonging and worsening the pandemic.
SOURCE: National News Bureau of Thailand