As daily COVID-19 infections and deaths continue to surge in recent weeks, Thai authorities have decided to convert the country’s major airport into a field hospital.
A recently completed terminal, dubbed “Satellite 1” or SAT-1, located within the compound of Suvarnabhumi Airport, will be converted into a facility next month offering at least 5,000 beds to COVID-19 patients, according to Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob.
The building consists of four stories and up to 216,000sqm of space. The first floor will accommodate at least 5,000 beds for COVID-19 patients while the second floor will be utilized as an intensive-care unit. The third and fourth floors are expected to accommodate patients with mild or no symptoms.
The new terminal complex was part of a THB62 billion (about US$2 billion) development plan that was approved in 2011. Its opening was postponed to April 2022, according to the airport authority, citing delays in the import of materials caused by the pandemic.
The government previously ensured that there were enough beds for “severely affected” patients during the third-wave outbreak. However, complaints continued to stream in from people claiming that they couldn’t find hospital beds for themselves or their loved ones. Some people have also been photographed camping outside a hospital while waiting for beds and COVID-19 treatment.
Thailand has suffered from the spread of the Delta variant. The country today confirmed another record daily high of 6,519 coronavirus infections and 54 deaths.