Fears over public Covid-19 testing

Fears over public Covid-19 testing

Units risk becoming 'hot spots', says govt

Private hospitals have been warned against setting up mobile Covid-19 testing units in busy areas to avoid spreading the infection further.

The alarm was raised by the Department of Health Service Support following reports that some hospitals had set up testing stations outside shopping centres and petrol stations.

"This could turn a screening unit into a virus hot spot," department chief Tares Krassanairawiwong said yesterday.

According to officials, private hospitals can conduct outdoor diagnoses under two conditions: They work together with public health officials or stick to designated locations.

Those places are "patients' houses or quarantine areas," Dr Tares said.

If a private hospital breaks these conditions, staff and the institutions face jail terms, fines or both, he said.

Meanwhile, Mongkutwattana General Hospital in Chaeng Wattana, a northern suburb of Bangkok, will double as one-stop-service centre for Covid-19 testing and treatment for those without insurance or social security coverage.

It will offer free tests to Thai citizens, having been chosen by the National Health Security Office (NHSO) to carry out the task.

Rienthong Nanna, director of the hospital, said its laboratory has been certified to carry out tests by the Department of Medical Sciences, under the public health ministry.

The laboratory has the capacity to test 180 samples per day, with each test taking about three hours to process, he said.

This weekend, the director said his team had tested 40 samples, of which none came back positive for the virus.

Staff have also prepared a special protocol for handling Covid-19 cases.

"Patients with flu-like symptoms will be channelled away from other patients while they are being diagnosed and treated.

"They will be kept in a separate, isolated building the whole time," said Dr Rienthong.

The hospital recently took on 40 patients to help free up resources at Rajavithi hospital.

Of these, 35 have now recovered and returned home while five are still being treated, according to Dr Rienthong.

NHSO secretary-general Sakchai Kanchanawattana said streamlined services for Covid-19 patients are essential to prevent the infection of other patients as well as to lighten the burden medical professionals and the state as they battle the virus.

So far, the NHSO has spent 4.28 billion baht covering Covid-19 treatment for those without insurance or social security coverage, reports say. "This includes testing, treatment and rehabilitation," said Dr Sakchai.

Each test costs 3,000 baht and the average cost of treatment for each critical case is 400,000 baht, officials say.

Less severe Covid-19 infections generally cost 40,000 baht to treat, according to the NHSO secretary-general.

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