Hotels eyed as isolation area

Hotels eyed as isolation area

Health Ministry to draft requirements

The interior of a room at the Palazzo Hotel on Ratchadaphisek Road in Bangkok. The hotel is being converted into a field hospital to care for mild-symptom coronavirus patients. Varuth Hirunyatheb
The interior of a room at the Palazzo Hotel on Ratchadaphisek Road in Bangkok. The hotel is being converted into a field hospital to care for mild-symptom coronavirus patients. Varuth Hirunyatheb

The Ministry of Public Health is eyeing privately-owned hotels suffering financially as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic to join the ministry's scheme to provide isolation space for people at risk of infection.

The ministry is exploring this idea after several hotels agreed to convert their space into hospitals for Covid-19 patients.

Deputy Public Health Minister, Satit Pitutecha, said the ministry is in the process of drafting criteria for hotels to provide space for people required to quarantine such as returnees from Covid-19 affected areas or patients discharged from the hospital who need to self-quarantine for 14 days to ensure zero transmission.

The Department of Health Service Support is going to create criteria for hotel isolation, Mr Satit said.

"We are expecting to implement it as soon as the criteria are finished."

Nurses interview people seeking medical assistance through a transparent film partition at Pranangklao Hospital in Nonthaburi. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The ministry provided an update to the press on Thursday about the current progress of a "hospitel" partnership in which two hotels, the Princeton and the Palazzo, agreed to convert their space to serve as a hospital in Bangkok saying that at least 800 rooms were available. Currently, there are around 70 patients in the Princeton Hotel while the Palazzo is expecting to welcome patients next week.

Dr Tares Krassanairawiwong, head of the Department of Health Service Support, explained that the criteria for the hospitel partnership are that the hotel must have over 30 rooms, a hotel licence, safe building structure, no carpets, isolated air conditioners, a waste management system, and a friendly community. There are 85 hotels with 10,700 rooms that meet these criteria in Bangkok, 15 hotels in Chon Buri, eight in Nakhon Ratchasima, and six in Chiang Mai, leading to a total of 16,000 rooms nationwide. Furthermore, at least 18 hotels with 2,000 rooms have been noted as the department's top priority for use in case of need.

Meanwhile, Dr Somsak Akkslip, chief of Medical Services, said that it is clear that a hospitel is designed to reduce the number of patients residing in main hospitals during the outbreak. A medical team stationed at hotels will be in charge of up to 100 patients. Meanwhile, CCTV systems and telecommunication lines will be set up to allow for tele-contact between patients and medical staff based in the hotel. Moreover, a body temperature measuring tool and body oxygen tool will be set up in each room so that the medical team can collect reports.

The concept is designed for patients exhibiting mild symptoms of Covid-19 which requires them to stay at the main hospital for at least a week. After this period, they must have the ability to take care of themselves and agree to stay at a hospitel. The patients must remain there for at least 14 days after the date of their discharge from the main hospital. Moreover, after leaving the hospitel, they must self-quarantine at home for another 14 days to ensure there is no further transmission.

A woman prays to her ancestors to mark the Ching Ming festival, or Tomb-Sweeping Day, in Nakhon Si Thammarat. The prayers had to be held at home this year. (Photo by Issarat Janjaem)

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