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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Mass-testing vs contact tracing in Thailand




Yesterday, the Thai government announced that contact tracing (identification of high risk personnel) is the most valid and effective method for battling the Covid-19 outbreak around the country. The spokesperson, and now familiar frontman, of the Centre of Covid-19 Situation Administration Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin has also revealed that “this is partly because Thailand has limited resources and can not afford to use the mass screening technique to uncover new infections.”

“For example, using Thailand’s top tourist destination ‘Phuket’, which has suffered for the highest ratio for infections, the statistics are as follows…”

  1. Phuket at 44.03 cases for every 100,000 people.
  2. Bangkok at 23.03 cases for every 100,000 people.
  3. Yala at 15.72 cases for every 100,000 people.

Bangkok’s population is 8.281 million whereas Phuket’s population is at only 416,582. The first infection in Phuket, was found on January 26 and the numbers have been rising rapidly, leading to most districts and subdistricts in severe lockdown. The areas around Patong’s Bangla Road and the beachside community of Bang Tao have been the hardest hit.

In response to criticism about the lack of mass screening, Dr. Taweesin says that “4 hospitals that have conducted tests on fairly large sample groups and found relatively low rate of infections. For instance, Patong Hospital tested 1,712 people and found 19 infections or just 1.11 %.”

“Vachira Phuket Hospital tested 763 and found 2 infections or just 0.26 %, while Cherngtalay Hospital (Thalang) conducted 103 tests and found 5 infections or 4.85 %, Thalang Hospital tested 337 people and found no infections. Judging by these statistics, contact tracing has proved to be the most cost-effective and efficient means of finding infections.”

The CCSA has displayed 4 major key lessons learned from the Covid-19 battle…

  • Those in high-risk contact groups have to be identified, and to ensure this measure is effective, the authorities need to enforce strict screening measures and the police have to step in and identify those evading the process.
  • Those in high-risk contact groups have to be completely isolated.
  • Active hunting for cases has to be applied to communities that have a high rate of infections or when contact tracing cannot be applied to all high-risk people.
  • Mass screening is not cost effective as the rate of infection is not high enough. Thailand’s number of cases is low because the authorities have been testing far too few people.

SOURCE: The Nation


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My name is Anukul, I a writer for the Thaiger, I specialise in translation articles and social media, and assisting with our video production. I previously worked at Phuket Gazette and attended BIS international school in Phuket.

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