Hospitals will keep admitting everyone who tests positive for the coronavirus, the government said on Monday, despite mounting pressure to keep beds available for the very sick.
“We have considered the home isolation strategy but we are concerned over cases whose condition have rapidly got worse while waiting at home,” said Dr Apisamai Srirangsan deputy spokeswoman for the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).
“We are also concerned that they will infect others, including elderly people and young children, because it is hard for some to practice social distancing and avoid sharing facilities in a small home,” she added.
The CCSA said on Saturday that there are more than 40,524 hospital beds around the country and 21,138 are still available but only 69 ICU beds were left in Bangkok.
They have also set up field hospitals and hospitels (hotel beds that have been converted to hospital beds) to cope with the rising number of daily cases.
Apisamai said that some asymptomatic people, some showing less-severe symptoms, and cases that were found via proactive tests, are being assigned to a category called the green group, and being asked to wait for a few days at home until a hospital bed is available.
The people in the green group will be assigned where possible to field hospitals and hospitels, while people with more severe symptoms will be admitted to hospitals that have available beds.
The country is now reporting more than 2,000 cases per day, and more than 1,000 infected people are waiting at home for a hospital bed.
The government have set up hotlines for infected people looking for a hospital bed, but they are facing heavy complaints of the lines being busy all the time. Apisamai said the government is working on improving them.
Apisamai said the CCSA will reconsider the increase of covid-restriction measures in some provinces on Thursday.
Apart from the nationwide measure to temporarily shut down entertainment venues, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration on Monday imposed the temporary closure of more at-risk businesses.
The capital is the hardest-hit province by the third wave, with a reportedf 9,076 cases since April 1, compared to 3,232 in Chiang Mai and 1,963 in Chonburi, the second- and third- hardest-hit provinces, respectively.
Forty-eight provinces, including Bangkok, are also imposing fines on anyone not wearing their face mask in public until further notice.
The fine is up to 20,000 baht (US$635) and there is no exception.
Thailand found 2,048 new coronavirus cases in 68 provinces and eight more related deaths in the past 24 hours.
Of those, 1,991 were found via tests at medical facilitates, 47 via proactive tests at known clusters and 10 in quarantine facilities.
Of the new cases, the highest numbers by province were 901 in Bangkok, followed by 110 in Samut Prakan, 104 in Chonburi, 97 in Nonthaburi, 84 in Chiang Mai and 61 in Surat Thani.
The third wave, which started at entertainment venues in Bangkok and surrounding provinces, had led to 28,645 confirmed cases and 54 deaths since April 1.
There are now 25,767 patients who are being treated at hospitals.
Of those, 20,461 are being treated at private and public hospitals while 5,306 patients are being treated at field hospitals and so-called hospitels.
Of the total number of patients, 563 are in critical condition and 150 require a ventilator to breathe.
Of the 68 provinces that reported cases in the past 24 hours, 40 provinces have reported fewer than 10 cases, 21 provinces have reported between 11 and 50 cases, four have reported between 51 and 100 cases and three have reported more than 100 cases.
As of Monday, 972,204 people have received their first dose of Covid vaccine and 177,462 have received both required doses.
Once local production of the AstraZeneca vaccine is up and running in June the government is aiming to inoculate 300,000 people per day, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha said Monday, allowing it to reach the target of 50 million people by the end of the year.