Bangkok’s hospitals run out of COVID tests as new rules create travel crunch

A COVID drive-through test at Phyathai Hospital. Photo: Phyathai hospital
A COVID drive-through test at Phyathai Hospital. Photo: Phyathai hospital

Last-minute travel barriers spurring a surge of demand for COVID-tests on the eve of the nation’s biggest holiday has overwhelmed Bangkok’s private hospitals.

After a slew of travel restrictions went up around Bangkok, holiday travelers in need of testing certificates today were left to call around to hospitals in hope of finding any with remaining tests, a situation changing by the moment. So far, private hospitals to suspend testing include Samitivej Srinakarin, Sukhumvit, Phyathai 1, Paolo Kaset, Praram 9, BNH, Piyavate and MedPark.

In the past 24 hours, officials throughout the kingdom announced mandatory quarantine for anyone arriving without proof of a recent COVID test from the capital and four provinces comprising metropolitan Bangkok – Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan and Nakhon Pathom.

So far those restrictions have been announced in popular destinations including Chiang Mai, Trang, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Khon Kaen, Songkhla, Surat Thani’s Koh Samui, and Buriram. There were unconfirmed reports of passengers already in the air being told they would be taken from the airport on Koh Samui for testing.

At about noon on Friday, all bars and brothels in 41 provinces were ordered to close for at least two weeks, starting tomorrow. They include metropolitan Bangkok, Chonburi, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Rayong, Ayutthaya, Phuket, Khon Kaen and Nakhon Ratchasima.

The hasty, delayed response to stemming the third-wave outbreak led to many complaints.

“Who can go get tested right now that you have just announced [restrictions] this close to when people will travel!?” Wasu Madilokkowit wrote in reply to an announcement by Trang’s airport. “Hospitals in Bangkok now are overwhelmed with people waiting in line for COVID tests with a shortage of test kits. This is afflicting people too much, do you realize that?”

Health officials announced 559 new cases today, 266 of which are found in Bangkok. A 60 year-old man from Narathiwas with tuberculosis has become 96th death from COVID-19.

COVID-19 task force spokesperson Taweesilp Wissanuyothin today listed the 40 provinces outside Bangkok affected by the closure of nightlife venues: Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Prakan, Samut Songkhram, Samut Sakhon, Ayutthaya, Saraburi, Lopburi, Nakhon Nayok, Chonburi, Rayong, Chanthaburi, Prachinburi, Chachoengsao, Sa Kaeo, Suphanburi, Kanchanaburi, Ratchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phetchaburi, Ranong, Chumphon, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phuket, Surat Thani, Songkhla, Yala, Narathiwat, Nakhon Ratchasima, Khon Kaen, Chaiyaphum, Udon Thani, Buriram, Loei, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Chiang Rai, Tak and Phetchabun.


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