Pressed for beds, Thailand to release COVID-19 patients early if not serious

Exhausted medical personnel at a hospital in Satun province. Photo: Public Health Ministry
Exhausted medical personnel at a hospital in Satun province. Photo: Public Health Ministry

To relieve the crunch on medical facilities, COVID-19 patients will be allowed to leave the hospital if they do not have serious symptoms after 10 days.

As beds continue to be filled by the thousands of new daily cases, the Public Health Ministry said patients with few or no symptoms could complete their 14-day isolation at home, COVID-19 task force spokesperson Apisamai Srirangsan said today. She said that they must stay home to prevent spread of the virus and will not be cleared to return to work during that period.

Thailand has hit the limits of its mandatory hospitalization policy, under which anyone found to have the virus has been required to be admitted for at least 14 days to make a full recovery.

The penalty for failing to stay at home wasn’t mentioned. The reaction to the change was generally negative, with people saying they did not have much faith in Thai self-discipline and worried about the burden it will put on families.

“How do we know that those who come home will strictly isolate themselves? Won’t this cause even more problems because the virus is still there? We all know some Thais don’t feel responsible for themselves or society,” Panyawut Pongsalore wrote.

Fatalities have been climbing as the third-wave of infections wears on. Blamed on the fast-spreading UK variant, it has seen more than a thousand new cases daily since mid-April. Fears that the likely inevitable spread of other variants has led the kingdom to tighten borders. The first case of a worrying mutation that emerged in India – apparently even more contagious and possible resistant to existing vaccines – has been found in state quarantine, officials said today.

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