Hospital bed shortage “a crisis”

Only 5 per cent remain of the hospital beds designated for Covid patients with moderate symptoms or in critical condition in the Bangkok and Metropolitan Region (BMR), the government said on Thursday.

“This is a crisis,” said Dr Rungruang Kitpati, spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health.

“More than 95 per cent of the yellow and red beds have now been filled,” he added.

The government categorizes Covid patients into colour-coded groups: asymptomatic (light green), mild symptoms (dark green), moderate symptoms (yellow) and critical condition (red).

For hospital beds, the yellow beds are fitted with high-flow oxygen machines and the red beds are intensive care (ICU) beds.

According to the ministry’s data on June 27, there are 12,541 yellow beds and 1,381 red beds in public and private hospitals in Bangkok and five surrounding provinces.

Dr Rungruang did not provide the exact numbers on how many yellow and red beds are actually left.

For the capital, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration said on Thursday that there were 366 hospital beds left in all of the city’s public and private hospitals, field hospitals and hospitels (hotel beds that have been changed to hospital beds).

Dr Rungruang said with the shortage of hospital beds for Covid patients with moderate symptoms and in critical condition, the government will have to continue with the home isolation programme.

The programme is under fire from the opposition as more and more Covid patients are waiting at home for hospital beds and some have died while waiting and they are suggesting for the government to build more community isolation facilities.

A volunteer group also told Thai Enquirer that many Covid patients who are isolating themselves at home cannot register to get medical equipment, medicine, and calls with doctors as was promised by the government.

The community isolation programme was set up to take in people whose home was not appropriate for the home isolation programme.

The BMA said on Thursday there are now 50 community isolation facilities in 47 districts of Bangkok.

The total capacity for all 50 facilities is 5,781 patients but only 21 facilities are operational at the moment.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha on Wednesday instructed local authorities in the capital to build at least one more community isolation in each of the 50 districts of Bangkok, with a capacity of at least 100 patients per facility. 

According to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s data, a total of 13,655 new Covid cases, a new all-time high, and 87 related deaths were reported in the past 24 hours.

The third wave, which started in the BMR since April 1, had led to 424,269 cases and 3,603 deaths so far.

There are now 137,058 Covid patients who are being treated at hospitals. Of that, 3,856 are in critical condition including 889 on ventilators.

From the total number of Covid patients, 78,197 are being treated in public and private hospitals and 58,861 in field hospitals.

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