‘We cannot solely rely on the Health Ministry’: Miss Grand beauties jump in to help COVID-19 patients

A file photo of Nawat Itsaragrisil with Miss Grand pageants. Photo: Miss Grand International Thailand
A file photo of Nawat Itsaragrisil with Miss Grand pageants. Photo: Miss Grand International Thailand

With strained health services strained and a diminishing number of beds to accommodate COVID-19 patients being blamed on an “inefficient” government, a bunch of beautiful women have stepped in to do what they can to help.

Under a campaign “COVID Patients Must be Treated” launched yesterday by Miss Grand International Thailand, the pageant will use its resources to help sick people find a hospital. Its president Nawat Itsaragrisil said there have been too many tragic stories of COVID patients dying without treatment. He cited a “deeply moving” story of a homebound, 85-year-old grandma who died in her Bangkok home after publicly pleading for help because no ambulance had arrived for days.

“It hit me then that we cannot solely rely on the Ministry of Health,” Nawat said at a Tuesday news conference.

A file photo of a 85-year-old grandma who died in her Bangkok home after publicly pleading for help because no ambulance had arrived for days.
A file photo of a 85-year-old grandma who died in her Bangkok home after publicly pleading for help because no ambulance had arrived for days.

With Miss Grand’s help, people who have tested positive for COVID-19 but are unable to find a hospital can contact @Missgrand via Line. Staff will collect their information including their whereabouts for the past 14 days to send out to available hospitals. Working at the phone bank are former contestants Patcharaporn “Nam” Chantarapadit and Juthamas “Aoy” Mekseree.

Nawat said so far they have been able to place 25 of the 80 cases they have taken. The goal is to help more than 50 patients per day, and they’ve received an overwhelming 347 calls since they opened the lines four days ago, according to Nawat. 

“I can’t say that we are a refuge. We’re just offering an alternative to COVID patients out there who stuck at home, trying to get through to the hotlines and hospitals in vain,” Nawat said. “Every life matters and so does the right to medical treatment.”

Nawat Itsaragrisil announces the “COVID Patients Must be Treated” campaign at a Tuesday news conference.
Nawat Itsaragrisil announces the “COVID Patients Must be Treated” campaign at a Tuesday news conference.

Nawat has drawn wide praise from younger generations and progressives for his positions. Last month, he stood behind Miss Grand Myanmar, Han Lay, after allowing her to use the pageant stage to speak out against the deadly military crackdown in Myanmar. 

For the second consecutive day today, Thailand reported 15 COVID-19 deaths, its record high in a single day, as well as 2,012 new infections, bringing the tally since the outbreak began to 61,699 cases and 178 deaths. 

The sharp rise in cases this month has strained resources to their limits, leaving people desperate to secure a bed. They have also complained that no one is available to answer the phone at the government-promoted health response hotlines.

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