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No room at the inn – Bangkok hospitals turning away people seeking Covid tests

Tim Newton

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Today’s drop in newly reported infections by the CCSA has dampened Thai’s desire for a Covid test in and around Bangkok. Now, many hospitals around the city are restricting the numbers of patients tested. And if you want to be tested, Thai or foreigner, you better be ready to pay for it.

Thai Enquirer is reporting that at least 3 private hospitals are not accepting new Covid patients, including BNH Hospital, Praram 9 Hospital and Paolo Hospital in Phaholyotin. But even the latter, who had received a new batch of test kits, said they will take walk-ins but only from 0800 – 1700. The cost at Paolo Hospital is 4,500 baht.

According to Thai Enquirer, the city’s public hospitals are also limiting the number of new Covid tests. Thammasat University Hospital and King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital are doing tests but only on who they consider ‘at-risk’ communities, and only 100 tests per day. Taksin Hospital, on the west side of the Chao Phraya, is providing free Covid testing but, again, only people they consider ‘at-risk’ patients. None of them are providing the popular drive-through services. For the majority of the hospitals charging, costs for the tests are between 4,000 – 6,000 baht, depending on the patients and their perceived risk levels.

293 new infections were detected in Bangkok over the past 24 reporting period. 210 more cases were reported from provinces directly adjacent to Bangkok. Around the country there were 1,390 new cases reported this morning, down on yesterday and Saturday’s numbers but still well in excess of the numbers being reported in Thailand’s first and second waves.

 

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Avatar

    toby andrews

    Monday, April 19, 2021 at 5:11 pm

    True to form the greedy scamming Thais reverts to their usual instincts.
    They now restrict tests.
    Yet if you pay B4500, you can have a covid test between 8.00.oclock and 17.00 at Paolo hospital.
    Other hospitals charge between B4000 to B6000.
    A covid test take 30 minutes from start to results. They do no need doctors. They do not need nurses.
    A lad that sell bottles of petrol by the side of the road could do the test.
    Take a million of the unemployed in Thailand and employ them to administer the test, instead of giving them charity.
    They have all the labour they need but they will not use them because certain Thais, are taking kick backs from the private hospitals charging for tests.

  2. Avatar

    David Pilkington

    Monday, April 19, 2021 at 7:37 pm

    Covid tests in the US, UK and most civilised countries are administered free-of-charge to those deemed to satisfy simple qualifying health rules.
    In Thailand, ‘ … costs for the tests are between 4,000 – 6,000 baht … ‘ Thailand, through and through.
    In the US, 50% of adults have now been inoculated. Here, in Thailand, they’ve managed only 2%.
    This country is going backwards . . . rapidly.

  3. Avatar

    Leo Z

    Monday, April 19, 2021 at 9:43 pm

    @David, agreed. Tests in the US have been free for over half a year now. Oh and the vaccines are free, 100%. Zero insurance? No worry, the federal government pays for it.

    When one thinks about it, Thailand is not the kind of place you want to be in during an outbreak. Things are nice when daily infections are subdued. But during a wave, you are hostage to government decision-makers who excel at anything except decision-making and planning, and to a decentralized, strictly for-profit, health care system (this is a country known for medical tourism after all). Many foreigners are not aware that 4,000-6,000 baht is one-fifth to one-fourth of the average Thai monthly wages, in Bangkok.

  4. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Monday, April 19, 2021 at 10:10 pm

    A little unfair, Thaiger, as amongst other free tests you’ve overlooked the 300 an hour being tested, free, at the Bangkok Youth Centre in Din Daeng.

    “A covid test take 30 minutes from start to results …
    A lad that sell bottles of petrol by the side of the road could do the test.”

    Maybe on your planet, @toby andrews, but not on this one.

    “In Thailand, ‘ … costs for the tests are between 4,000 – 6,000 baht … ”

    Not for those who “satisfy simple qualifying health rules”, @David Pilkington. such as being high risk or symptomatic for whom they’re either free or covered by mandatory insurance – as even the Thaiger has reported elsewhere.

    “In the US, 50% of adults have now been inoculated. Here, in Thailand, they’ve managed only 2%.”

    Indeed they have, @David. The US is one of the ten countries that have had 75% of the vaccines, leaving 25% for the rest of the world.

    The EU has bought enough to vaccinate everybody in the EU twice over (both doses) and still have half a billion doses spare. The US and the UK have bought enough to vaccinate their populations four times over (both doses), and Canada theirs six times over.

    As many observers have said, the richest countries have simply “cleared the shelves” leaving little for middle income countries like Thailand and even less for the rest further down the chain.

  5. Avatar

    EdwardV

    Monday, April 19, 2021 at 10:12 pm

    So the drop in infections has diminished the demand for testing? Really? That’s the logic they want us to believe? The drop in infections is a direct result of a drop in testing. The drop in testing is a direct result in hospitals refusing to test. The hospitals don’t want to test because of someone is positive they must admit them and they don’t have the room. Never mind most people who are infected don’t need to be hospitalized. Who came up with this screwed up self defeating system?

  6. Avatar

    Mike

    Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 2:04 am

    in the US you can buy a two pack test kit at the Pharmacy for thirty bucks, about 1,000 baht. Appears their is a bit of profit making in Thailand. Sad, wonder who is collecting all that cash. Perhaps more jets are needed for the fleet of the elite

  7. Avatar

    Benjamin Woo

    Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 6:03 am

    This is like Deja Vu for me. In the USA, early in the pandemic, you would hear the same things you’re hearing now in Thailand. You have more infections because you’re testing more or you have less infections because you’re testing less. Whatever fit your narrative you could make up the scenario.

    A more unbiased view would be to look at hospitalizations and deaths. It’s clear there are more hospitalizations and deaths than there were last month so there is more virus in the community.

    This makes sense because people had become lax coupled with more virus coming over the Cambodian and Myanmar borders leading to the current surge. The numbers are still small compared to places like the USA during their surges so the public should more steadfastly do the basics of mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing. Lockdowns are only necessary if people refuse to do these things, behave badly or the infection situation is so out of control that you can’t track and trace. They’ve taken out the least controllable variable by shutting down drinking in public.

    This should be over in a few weeks.

  8. Avatar

    Medical Observer

    Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 7:06 am

    Thailand is headed towards a Covid s**t storm.

  9. Avatar

    David Pilkington

    Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 8:49 am

    A somewhat blinkered view I feel, @Simon Small, and one that might suggest you’re of the same ‘excuse-finding and blame everyone and everything else’ school that Prayut attended, judging from his Friday TV speech.
    I was actually being over-kind to the Health Ministry with my deliberately understated figures, whilst a truer picture is revealed by these, as of yesterday, up-to-date stats:
    1) Whilst private hospitals in Bangkok are charging ‘between 4,000 – 6,000 baht’, Covid-19 testing in the US, the UK and many countries is administered free-of-charge to those persons deemed to be in qualifying risk groups. At 4,000 – 6,000 baht per swab, costing 560 baht according to a CE approved source, why, in Thailand, is there such a readiness to make a profit from the pandemic?
    2) As of 19 Apr, US and UK inoculations are at 63% of the populations, whilst Thailand is struggling, for whatever reasons, to reach 1%. Whilst admittedly officially classified as a ‘developing’, as opposed to a ‘developed’ country, why does the Thai performance of this crucial pandemic action show such a pitiable ‘undeveloped’ approach?
    Two statements there that reveal a blatant readiness for hospitals to make money from a pandemic that is actually killing Thai citizens, whilst the dire shortfall in inoculations shows a similarly lethargic approach to cutting the Covid-19 death rate – or is that also a cash-related stat … a shortage of cash, perhaps.

  10. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 9:48 am

    “This should be over in a few weeks”

    One of the few rational and informed comments here, @Benjamin Woo, but I’m not as confident as you about that particular part – unless you meant just this “wave”, which is possible.

    “In the US you can buy a two pack test kit at the Pharmacy for thirty bucks, about 1,000 baht. Appears their is a bit of profit making in Thailand.”

    Completely different tests, @Mike, with a completely different level of accuracy. Medicare pay $100 per PCR test, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas give the average as $1,114 and Gibson Diagnostic Labs were charging $2,315.

    Yes, US $, so 72,275 baht.

    Average US cost is just over $150 so 4,700 baht.

  11. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 10:00 am

    “Oh and the vaccines are free, 100%. Zero insurance? No worry, the federal government pays for it.”

    Sorry, @Leo Z, missed it before.

    So if you have “zero insurance” in the US and you need to be hospitalised for treatment does “the federal government pay for it”?

    Or anyone else?

    (Hint: the answer’s a two letter word beginning with ‘N’ and ending with ‘O’.)

    The average cost of hospital treatment for Covid-19 in the US is $30,000 / just under a million baht, BTW, which probably makes the US “not the kind of place you want to be in during an outbreak” if you don’t have any health insurance – like 30 million people in the USA.

  12. Avatar

    Jorge

    Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 11:01 am

    @simon small.
    Covid test here in U.K. are free of charge. And yes, takes 30 minutes and you can do it by yourself.
    Covid test in Thailand cost from 4000 THB in private clinic. If you want the frees one, good luck, go to public hospital and join the lottery with only 300 covid test per day offering by them.
    About vaccines… US, U.K. and EU got priority because they are suppliers ( who doesn’t want their entire population already vaccinated first ) ; and smartly they booked vaccines in advance before start lockdown and 3 and 4 times population for emergency about new variants…. now with those Indian and Brazilian variants maybe we gonna need an extra dose after 2 regular vaccines. Why countries like Thailand are now in rush to vaccinate population? Why covid test are running out? If they go plenty of time to think in future? This is the problem….

  13. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 3:27 pm

    “And yes, takes 30 minutes and you can do it by yourself.”

    I don’t know how to explain this any more clearly than I already have, @Jorge.

    They’re completely different tests with a massive difference in accuracy.

    It’s like comparing a chateaubriand at Le Train Bleu with a Big Mac.

  14. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 4:42 pm

    “A somewhat blinkered view I feel, @Simon Small, and one that might suggest you’re of the same ‘excuse-finding and blame everyone and everything else’ school that Prayut attended, judging from his Friday TV speech.”

    Sorry the facts don’t suit your agenda, @David Pilkington, but nevertheless they are facts.

    No, I’m not “excuse-finding” and I think the vaccine roll out and shambles leading to the recent/current wave has been inexcusable, but the idea that it’s down to a general “readiness to make a profit from the pandemic” that’s unique to Thailand, as you and others are suggesting, rather than a far more identifiable one by a few who are in a position to do so is, in my view, nothing more than misinformed and rather tedious Thai-bashing.

    I’m not going to spell it out here for what I would have thought were very obvious reasons, also spelt out in the Thaiger comment guidelines, but Thanathorn has been spelling it out very clearly so that at least Thais can understand the problem and who stands to “make a profit”.

    As for your “stats”, they could hardly be more “blinkered”:

    These are PRIVATE hospitals – you even said so yourself!

    If you want a test “administered free-of-charge” then, just as in “the US, the UK and many countries”, don’t go to a PRIVATE hospital for it (unless covered by the DHSS / NHSO rules for “those persons deemed to be in qualifying risk groups”) but go to a government hospital, to one of the private hospitals that offer them for certain groups (as nine PRINC hospitals do, for example), or to the Bangkok Youth Center if you’re a taxpayer.

    Your “560 baht according to a CE approved source” is the cost of buying each test – not the cost of administering it and overheads. It’s like getting a taxi and complaining that petrol is only 35 baht a litre so thinking that’s what you should be paying for a 10 km drive through Bangkok.

    “why, in Thailand, is there such a readiness to make a profit from the pandemic?”

    What “readiness” ?????

    And why only “in Thailand” ?????

    Private hospitals are a business, there to make a profit – as long as it’s not profiteering excessively.

    Maybe you should have checked what other countries are doing before singling Thailand out, INCLUDING YOUR OWN.

    “between 4,000 – 6,000” in Thailand is on a par with the average costs in the US (4,700 baht), less than the average in the UK (6,500 baht) and far, far less than some (see above, Gibson Diagnostics at over 70,000 baht, for the exact same test).

    So, WHY THAILAND, when private hospitals in your own country are charging 50% more on average, for the exact same test, and some are charging 1,500% more?????

    That’s bit hypocritical isn’t it?

  15. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 5:10 pm

    … and if you’re after a pitiable ‘undeveloped’ approach that is actually killing its citizens, you don’t need to look much further than the UK, with over a thousand times as many dead as Thailand, despite GB being an island!

    Try excusing that as being anything but “pitiable” without going to the “excuse-finding and blame everyone and everything else’ school” that plenty commenting here went to!

  16. Avatar

    David Pilkington

    Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 5:31 pm

    ‘And why only “in Thailand” ?????’ You said that @Simon, not I. And if you cannot distinguish between ‘tedious Thai-bashing’ and my justified criticism of Thai health authority performance, both ministerial and at private hospital level, then maybe you should climb down from your Pom-bashing horse and be readier to accept a balanced and reasonably even-handed view of the test-charging issue as here, amongst these posts, expressed.

  17. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Wednesday, April 21, 2021 at 3:23 pm

    ” “And why only “in Thailand” ?????’ You said that @Simon, not I.”

    Did I really?

    That’s odd, because I’m quoting the comment you made only nine hours before you denied making it:

    “why, in Thailand, is there such a readiness to make a profit from the pandemic?”

    IT’S STILL THERE, ONLY SEVEN COMMENTS BEFORE YOUR DENIAL!

    I’ve read some seriously asinine comments here, but denying saying something when it’s there, crystal clear, under the same article, made earlier the same day, has to be an all-time winner.

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Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for 41 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented over 10,000 radio news bulletins, 3,900 in Thailand alone, hosted 650 daily TV news programs and produced 2,100 videos, TV commercials and documentaries. As founder of The Thaiger, Tim now acts as the Content Manager and head-writer, whilst supervising the growth of the YouTube channel. He's reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue and other major stories in Thailand.

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