Hundreds of hospital beds readied
Ministry prepares for Covid-19 'crisis level'
The Ministry of Public Health insists there will be sufficient hospital beds to accommodate Covid-19 patients, saying 400 will be ready in hospitals in Bangkok by this week.
Dr Somsak Akhasilp, director-general of the Department of Medical Services under the ministry, told media on Tuesday that the public had no reason to worry about a shortage of hospital beds to accommodate virus victims.
"Thanks to strong medical resources management, we are confident there will be enough beds and sufficient medical treatment for all patients if the outbreak reaches crisis level," said Dr Somsak, seeking to allay public fears of a repeat of conditions in Italy, where medical resources were overwhelmed by the scale of the outbreak.
"Crisis level", according to the ministry, would be reached when the number of Covid-19 cases admitted to hospitals exceeds 1,000 per day. As of Tuesday, 177 cases were being treated in hospitals. Among them, 135 were inpatients receiving care in state hospitals.
"Starting this weekend, there will be 400 beds assigned for Covid-19 patients in Bangkok. The ministry is working closely with all state hospitals, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration [BMA] hospitals, university, army and private hospitals to prepare beds for Covid-19 patients," Dr Somsak said.
In the capital, Rajavithi Hospital -- a state-funded BMA hospital -- will act as the focal point to arrange beds for Covid-19 patients at Bangkok hospitals. The ministry expects most Covid-19 patients will be found in big cities, especially Bangkok and its vicinity where 90% of cases recorded so far have been found.
Responding to complaints of private hospitals turning away cases, Dr Somsak said Bangkok private hospitals had made a "gentleman's agreement" with his ministry to take in Covid-19 patients.
At the provincial level, the ministry has earmarked 5,000 beds in state hospitals for Covid-19 cases. It is also sending stocks of Favipiravir to each province and ordering more from abroad. The ministry currently has 40,000 tablets of the experimental antiviral drug in stock, enough for 700 cases.
Dr Sukhum Karnchanapimai, permanent secretary of the ministry, said resources would be sufficient to deal with a "critical-level" outbreak, including the provision of an extra 4,000 beds beds for Covid-19 patients.
The Public Health and Tourism and Sports ministries are working to find space in sports stadiums, apartments and hotels where convalescing patients can be cared for after 48 hours in hospital. The total average length of treatment for Covid-19 cases is 20 days.