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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai respiratory specialist calls for total overhaul of how government handles Covid

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Facebook/หมอมนูญ ลีเชวงวงศ์ FC

A highly-respected specialist in respiratory illnesses says the Thai government needs to completely change tack in the way it’s dealing with Covid-19. Posting on his Facebook page, Dr Manoon Leechawengongs from Bangkok’s Vichaiyut Hospital has called for an overhaul in how new infections are dealt with and wants expensive PCR tests ditched altogether.

The prominent medic says that as it becomes clear the Omicron variant generally results in less severe illness, the government needs to focus on saving money to treat people with more serious diseases.

“The government should not focus only on treatment of this disease but it should also take into account its budget and the economic situation.”

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Manoon points out that deaths from Omicron are 6 times lower than those from earlier variants and its symptoms are similar to those of the common cold for patients who are fully vaccinated. With 70% of Thailand’s population vaccinated, and around 25% having received a booster dose, he says the government must now treat Omicron as several other countries are doing.

The doctor goes on to point out that a number of countries have ditched the need for expensive PCR tests, due to the significant costs involved. He believes PCR testing should be reserved for those in high-risk groups who are likely to end up hospitalised with Covid, as well as the elderly population in care homes.

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He has called on anyone who thinks they may be infected to use an antigen test kit, adding that in several countries, people with only mild symptoms are not quarantined but allowed to self-isolate at home. He is also calling on the government to stop providing medical supplies and treatment to everyone who is in home isolation, regardless of symptoms.

“The government should not give Favipiravir medicines, thermometers or oxygen checkers to everyone who gets infected. The kits should be distributed only to people in risk groups, the elderly, those with 7 comorbidities, pregnant women, and the unvaccinated.”

Manoon says he’s in favour of the government’s plan to remove Covid-19 from the list of illnesses covered by the Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients scheme from March.

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“I agree with this because the government also needs to save money for taking care of people with other diseases. The government must explain this to the people and the people should not panic.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

 

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