The Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry is turning TOT phone booths into coronavirus test kiosks to ward off infection risk among healthcare workers and address the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).
TOT senior executive vice-president Morakot Thienmontree said the first batch of 50 booths, called "Covid boxes", are expected to be built batch by this month and deployed at selected hospitals in line with necessity.
The Covid boxes is an initiative driven by DES minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta, who wants TOT, which is a state enterprise, to play a part in supporting medical and public health services for hospitals, Mr Morakot said.
Two circular holes will be drilled on the side of the cubicle so healthcare workers can put their hands out to collect samples from patients.
The cubicle's interior is fitted with a positive pressure fan with a filter to prevent aerosol from entering the compartment, which is also equipped with illumination.
During each round of examination, a health care staffer has to wear protective clothes and a mask inside the cubicle and insert their hands into plastic gloves to collect samples from patients outside the box.
The staffers need to change their gloves after each examination.
The development of each box costs less than 1,000 baht, he said.
"This applies social distancing to the examination process and helps tackle the pain point in the shortage of PPE," said Mr Morakot.
Mr Buddhipongse assigned TOT to make 200 Covid boxes from telephone booths as an initial target to support hospitals in need, he said.
Mr Morakot said TOT has thousands of phone booths stored at the state enterprise's headquarters on Chaeng Watthana Road as well as other branches, including provincial offices.
TOT will select booths that are in good condition for the project, he said. They will be cleaned until they are ready for modification.
Mr Morakot said sourcing parts and equipment to develop the box is difficult given the situation.
The production can be done at several TOT offices, making transport to hospitals easier, he said, adding the prototype for the booths is ready.
TOT has given away TOT SIM cards to four state hospitals dealing with coronavirus patients.
The SIM cards would allow healthcare workers to send free short messages to countless patients during this difficult time.