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Sleeper trains in Bangkok to become isolation facilities for Covid-19 patients

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Bangkok Metropolitan Administration PR

Sleeper trains in Bangkok are being converted into isolation facilities for Covid-19 patients who are waiting for a hospital bed to become available. With the surge of Covid-19 cases, today hitting a record high of 17,669 new cases, hospitals in Bangkok, the epicentre of infections, have run low on beds to treat patients infected with the coronavirus.

At Bang Sue Grand Station, 15 sleeping cars will become temporary isolation areas for those waiting for a hospital bed to become available. Each train car has 16 beds, allowing 240 people to isolate themselves at the railway station.

The isolation centre will open to patients tomorrow. Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang went to the station earlier this week to determine whether the sleeper trains could be used to temporarily house Covid-19 patients. Portable bathrooms will be set up outside the train cars and mosquito screens will be fitted on the windows.

The State Railway of Thailand and Navamindradhiraj University are collaborating with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration on the sleeper train isolation facilities. The governor wrote on his Facebook page saying treating those infected with Covid-19 is a top priority.

Trains will also be used to transport Covid-19 patients, who have mild or moderate symptoms, from Bangkok back to their home province for treatment. The Transport Ministry is working with the State Railway of Thailand to provide more trains for Covid-19 patients, despite the low ridership this week on its first so-called “Covid Express” train.

The first train carrying 137 patients left Rangsit station for Ubon Ratchathani this week, stopping at stations along the way. It was originally scheduled to carry 1,489 patients, but many planned passengers had decided to travel home on chartered buses, ambulances, or rescue vehicles. Those who rode on the Covid Express were met by local officials and taken directly to a hospital for treatment. More trains are being planned for other destinations in the Northeast, North and South.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration said earlier this month that an uptick in infections was expected due to the emergence of the highly transmissible Delta variant. Large field hospitals at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports are being set up to treat patients with mild to severe Covid-19 symptoms as hospitals in the capital are at capacity.

Within the next few weeks, the BMA plans to open 53 community isolation centres for people infected with Covid-19 who are waiting to be admitted to hospitals, the governor says.

In the latest wave of cases, more than 140,000 people in Bangkok have tested positive for Covid-19. Yesterday, 3,997 new infections were reported in the capital.

Bangkok and surrounding provinces are classified as “dark red” zones under maximum control to combat the spread of Covid-19. Tight disease control measures are in place including a nightly curfew, interprovincial travel restrictions, and business closures.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Local Thai journalist speaking fluent Thai and English. Tanutam studied in Khon Kaen before attending Bangkok’s Chulalongkhorn University.

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