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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thailand’s health ministry wants to declare Covid-19 endemic within 4 months

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Flickr/hathaway_m

Thailand’s health ministry wants to declare Covid 19 as endemic in the next 4 months, according to a Bangkok Post report. Senior ministry official Kiattiphum Wongrajit says the Omicron variant has resulted in a much lower fatality rate than in previous waves and while lung infections are increasing, cases of severe illness are still lower than earlier waves of the coronavirus.

Health officials say deaths are also 10 times lower and could be lowered further if 60% – 70% of the elderly population get their booster vaccine dose.

The health ministry says it plans to hold a press conference to confirm the plan for transitioning the country out of pandemic status and on to managing an endemic illness. At the start of this year, the ministry confirmed its intention to declare Covid-19 endemic this year.

Kiattiphum says that as part of the move, the duration of Covid treatment will be adjusted and the quarantine period for high-risk contacts will be reduced. At this stage, officials say a return to lockdowns is extremely unlikely, even with the current surge in cases.

Meanwhile, Kiattiphum has defended the ministry’s decision to remove Covid-19 from the illnesses covered under the Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients scheme. Kiattiphum says budgets have to be reviewed as around 100 billion baht of the UCEP fund has been spent covering Covid treatment at government and private hospitals. Another 100 billion has funded the vaccine rollout.

The removal of Covid-19 from the UCEP scheme (in the case of patients with mild or no symptoms) was set to happen on March 1, but has been delayed for now. Kiattiphum insists Covid patients who are not seriously ill can still get free treatment under state welfare schemes, while moderate to severe illness will still be covered by UCEP.

He says asymptomatic patients or those with only mild symptoms should do home or community isolation and leave hospital beds for those who need them, including those seriously ill with illnesses other than Covid.

“It isn’t just about budget planning. It’s about changing people’s attitude to prepare for an endemic disease. When patients have very mild symptoms, they take medicine and rest. If the symptoms worsen, it is time to see a doctor.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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