All fatalities decline since start of pandemic

All fatalities decline since start of pandemic

This file photo taken on April 9, 2020 through a glass window at a maternity ward shows a newborn baby wearing a face shield, in an effort to halt the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, at Praram 9 Hospital in Bangkok. (AFP)
This file photo taken on April 9, 2020 through a glass window at a maternity ward shows a newborn baby wearing a face shield, in an effort to halt the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, at Praram 9 Hospital in Bangkok. (AFP)

Thailand is seeing fewer fatalities than usual during the Covid-19 epidemic, with deaths from all causes since October dropping by about 8% from a year earlier.

Overall, 111,950 deaths were reported within the public-hospital system during the first 267 days of fiscal 2020, which began nine months ago. That amounts to about 419 a day, compared with a daily average of 460 deaths during the year-earlier period, according to the Health Ministry’s database.

The low number is an encouraging sign for Thailand’s coronavirus situation. While the country has a relatively low testing rate, the absence of a spike in the mortality rate suggests there may not be a large number of virus-related deaths that have gone uncounted.

That trend is in contrast to other regions around the globe, such as New York City and the UK, where death tolls spiked as health-care systems became overwhelmed and officials struggled to keep up with confirmed fatalities tied to the pathogen.

Although Thailand was the second nation to report cases of the coronavirus, only 58 fatalities have been tallied from a total count of 3,156 cases, according the Ministry of Public Health. Swift imposition of a curfew and travel restrictions, a ban on alcoholic-beverage sales and programmes to promote hand-washing and mask-wearing have helped contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Such measures may have also helped curb deaths from other causes. Traffic fatalities have plunged -- especially good news in the nation with Asia’s highest per-capita death rate from road accidents.

Deaths have been stalled by frequent hand-washing, peoples’ willingness to wear face masks and social distancing, according to Sopon Iamsirithaworn, the Health Ministry’s director of general communicable diseases. Those measures have lessened the spread of potentially fatal food-borne germs and reduced fatalities from influenza and pneumonia, he said.

Thailand’s overall figures on death in the nine months from Oct 1 aren’t broken out by month. They also don’t include data from private and university medical facilities, which account for about 10% of the total, and data from some hospitals can lag by as much as 45 days.

And although the country hasn’t reported any new coronavirus cases from local transmission for the past four weeks, some people say the count is likely higher because of limited testing. Thailand has a population of about 69 million and tested 470,000 samples, according to government figures, which is fewer than most wealthier countries.


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