Covid rules prolong crisis

Covid rules prolong crisis

Untimely bureaucratic procedures and regulations have become key obstacles against efforts to save people's lives amid the worsening Covid-19 crisis.

The government risks putting patient safety at risk by erecting unnecessary barriers to diagnosis and treatment, especially when the highly infectious and dangerous Delta variant is dominating in the country.

Last week, Samut Sakhon governor Veerasak Vichitsangsri, who was earlier infected with Covid-19 and spent three months recovering, ordered his staff to break Public Health Ministry regulations on isolating Covid-19 patients when lives are at risk.

"If regulations cause people to die because of a lack of quarantine space, just bypass those regulations and do it," Mr Veerasak said on his Facebook page. "I issue the order."

His decision reflects the problems that stem from the government's centralised pandemic management, which tends to be inflexible when confronted with problems that arise in particular localities. It may hinder efforts to save the lives of Covid-19 patients and frontline workers.

Korn Chatikavanij, leader of the Kla Party and a former finance minister, said he is not confident of the Covid-19 situation improving after 14 days of lockdown, as long as burdensome regulations remain in the way of medical teams trying to find beds for patients.

He said one patient under his team's care died after she failed to access treatment despite the group's efforts to contact the authorities. A hospital had refused to admit the patient despite her having a medical treatment record there.

Alas, the fate of many Covid-19 patients will be no different even after Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul declared he will wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and visit Covid-19 patients being treated at home himself.

Last week, Mr Anutin led his team for a walk in Bangkok communities to arrange help for Covid-19 patients to ensure that no one dies on the street again. Earlier, he said he would wear a PPE suit and visit patients to get first-hand accounts of the pandemic.

Unfortunately, his kindness will not help unless the government and his ministry are aware of the problems stemming from certain state regulations.

Under these regulations, patients who are to be allocated beds -- at field hospitals and temporary waiting centres -- have to test positive through the RT-PCR Covid-19 testing method at hospitals.

Those who have RT-PCR test results from general private laboratories and rapid and antigen tests are not entitled. The same regulations apply to the administration of the antiviral drug Favipiravir to patients.

Getting an RT-PCR test costs money and time -- it takes a few days to get results and they are expensive. This causes many patients to lose the opportunity to receive treatment in time.

Several health experts say the Delta variant can cause pneumonia in 3-4 days after contact even when patients are asymptomatic or show mild symptoms. That is why timely treatments are so important.

Patients with a deteriorating condition should not lose their chance to receive timely treatment while seeking RT-PCR tests.

During this crisis, complicated bureaucratic procedures and regulations should be cleared for the sake of people's lives.

Policy management must not be centralised as different outbreak areas face different situations.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

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