Free Covid-19 tests for at-risk groups
The Department of Health Service Support on Wednesday instructed private hospitals nationwide to provide free Covid-19 tests for at-risk groups of people.
Director-general of the department Thares Krassanairawiwong said a new wave of Covid-19 infections in Samut Sakhon last week sparked grave concern among local residents as well as those who had visited at-risk areas.
The department asked all private hospitals nationwide to strictly comply with the Public Health Ministry's announcement on medical costs incurred by Covid-19 patients, he said.
The ministry's announcement stipulates that Covid-19 patients are emergency patients who must receive emergency medical care from hospitals.
The patients can receive free treatment at the hospital they have chosen under the government's health welfare scheme. If necessary or in an emergency case, they can receive free treatment at any hospital, public or private, he said.
"At-risk people who want to be tested for the virus can receive a free test at any hospital. If they test positive for Covid-19, they will be treated free of charge," Dr Thares said.
Other people who want to get tested without having been exposed to the virus have to pay for the test themselves, he said. "Hospitals that deny treatment to Covid-19 patients or charge them will be considered violating Section 36 of the Health Facility Act BE 2541. They will face imprisonment of up to two years and/or a fine of up to 40,000 baht," he warned.
Dr Thares said private hospitals must treat Covid-19 patients to the best of their ability.
Hospitals are prohibited from charging them, he said.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered a 1,000-bed field hospital to be set up to treat Covid-19 patients in Samut Sakhon.
The outbreak there is centred on migrant worker communities.