Govt steps in to fix Covid hotline woes

Govt steps in to fix Covid hotline woes

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha leads an inspection of a field hospital at Erawan Hospital 2 in Bangkok's Nong Chok district on Wednesday. Many field hospitals are sprouting up across the city in the wake of a spike in Covid-19 infections. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha leads an inspection of a field hospital at Erawan Hospital 2 in Bangkok's Nong Chok district on Wednesday. Many field hospitals are sprouting up across the city in the wake of a spike in Covid-19 infections. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered an increase in the capability of Covid-19 hotlines after people complained about not being able get through.

Gen Prayut said he had someone call the Covid-19 hotlines but no one answered the calls. He has instructed the responsible agencies to solve this problem. "I do not find fault with anyone but no one picked up the calls. What happened? Go fix it,'' he said.

The PM on Wednesday went to Bangkok Arena in Nong Chok district to inspect the Erawan 2 field hospital there.

Gen Prayut also instructed the military to help transport patients by sending its ambulances to help, saying he had learned that private hospitals were reluctant to receive Covid-19 patients due to their limited bed capacity.

Meanwhile, secretary-general of the National Health Security Office (NHSO) Jadej Thammatacharee said the problem of beds for Covid-19 patients was mostly found in Bangkok and admitted that some patients had not yet had beds allocated. In other provinces, there were beds for all Covid-19 patients, he said.

The doctor said, however, that data showed there were enough beds but the problem was caused by a process that involved many parties. The NHSO was trying to solve the problem by helping coordinate three main health hotlines to find beds for Covid-19 patients as soon as possible, he said.

The doctor suggested that patients with mild symptoms stay at home while waiting for beds. They will be called every six hours to follow up on their symptoms and will be taken to the hospital immediately if the symptoms get worse.

He confirmed the number of patients with no bed assigned started to fall after hospitals managed to secure more beds for Covid-19 patients, he said. "Asymptomatic patients will be sent to field hospitals or hospitals within 24 hours by health care workers," he said.

On criticism of field hospitals operated by the government, Dr Jadej said they fully complied with disease prevention standards and called on infected people to go there instead of finding beds themselves.

Assistant spokeswoman of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) Apisamai Srirangson urged those waiting for their Covid-19 test results to stay in quarantine and avoid going out. Once receiving the test results, Dr Apisamai suggested they contact the facility that administered their test for advice.

Hospitals would help categorise the infected people's symptoms before they were assigned beds, she said.


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