Infected Thais who are isolating at home find themselves without help

Many people who tested positive for Covid and are isolating themselves at home cannot register to get medical equipment, medicine, and calls with doctors as was promised by the government, a volunteer group told Thai Enquirer this week.

“Most of the people that come to us cannot register for help as they were unable to get any response from the 1330 hotline and the ones that were able to get through said they have been waiting for three to five days and no one has called them back,” said Piraphorn Boonruang, the founder of TIDE, a volunteer group that has been helping Covid patients who are isolating themselves at home.

Thailand has been reporting more than 5,000 cases per day since June 28 with that number peaking over 10,000 cases per day for the past week.

The third wave, which started in Bangkok and surrounding provinces, has led to 397,612 cases and 3,408 deaths since April 1.

The large spike in cases has led to a lack of hospital beds even though the government has been building field hospitals at pace.

In response, they have launched the home isolation program for Covid patients with mild symptoms or who are asymptomatic as of July 1.

Later on, a community isolation program was also set up to take in people whose home was not appropriate for the home isolation programme.

So far, the community isolation programme has been set up at 23 communities in Bangkok with a capacity of around 3,100 normal beds. More than 1,200 Covid patients were waiting for hospital beds at these facilities last week.

The two policies were meant to free up hospital beds for people with moderate symptoms and severe cases but not everyone is getting their home isolation treatment kit and there are many that cannot even get into the community isolation programme.

The Erawan Emergency Medical Centre said last week that they are helping at least 2,800 Covid patients who are currently waiting for a hospital bed at home in Bangkok but there are many other agencies that are doing the same thing in the capital.

Pathum Thani governor Chaiwat Chuenkosum said on Tuesday that are now more than 3,000 Covid patients who are waiting for a hospital bed in the province.

The hotline which was set up to help Covid patients in home isolation is now being overwhelmed with at least 5,000 calls every day, the National Health Security Office said on Monday.

In order to cope, the office has launched a website (www.crmsup.nhso.go.th) so that Covid patients in home isolation can register themselves to the system in order to receive help.

The government said once registered, people will be able to receive video calls from a medical worker to check up on their health, three meals per day, a digital thermometer, an oximeter to check the level of oxygen in their blood, and other basic medicine.

They also said that they will help find a hospital bed if the patient’s condition worsens.

However, Piraphorn told Thai Enquirer that her group is still receiving around 500 requests for help on their social media page every day and they are running out of oximeters and oxygen tanks to supply to the isolated patients.

“Most of them have waited for up to three days to know their PCR test result and they do not even know if they can leave their house to get help or buy medicine because they are already infected,” she said.

“They have called to report that they have been infected but no equipment is being sent to them and what most of them really just want is to be able to talk to a doctor so that they can at least feel better.”

Piraphorn said her volunteer group is now working with 30 doctors to call up patients who are isolated at home to check up on their condition and find out if they needed any more help.

“What we needed the most right now are oximeters so that we know who urgently needs a hospital bed,” she said.

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