Anutin defies calls to quit health post
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul is facing down calls to resign over his failure to contain the Covid-19 crisis.
The opposition Move Forward Party on Sunday spoke out on the government's handling of the third wave of Covid-19 infections, alleging negligence of duty by government officials and the absence of preparations to deal with a resurgence of the virus.
The party also slammed the national vaccination drive, saying the government was slow to purchase the required doses.
It also criticised the government's inability to assign beds to Covid-19 patients in a timely manner, after several patients died at home while waiting to be assigned to a treatment facility.
All three waves of Covid-19 infections in the country were caused by the government's complacency and discrimination in enforcing disease control measures, the party said.
The party demanded the minister's immediate resignation and called on the government to consider its suggestions on the Covid-19 situation.
One patient who died at home while waiting to be transferred was an 85-year-old woman living in a shophouse in Bang Kholaem district, where in total six elderly residents were found to be infected. Mr Anutin said he was sorry for the death and promising the ministry will work harder to find beds for those who need them the most.
Many experts have warned that unless action is taken, home deaths could follow the same sharp upward trajectory seen in other countries during similar stages of the outbreak. This comes amid reports that some people with Covid are choosing to stay at home rather than seek outside help, possibly endangering other members of the household.
Meanwhile, a group called "Mor Mai Thon" also launched a petition on Change.org calling for Mr Anutin's resignation. The minister should step aside to allow a more capable person to take over, the group said.
As of press time on Sunday, 122,709 people had signed the petition just a day after it was launched. In response, Mr Anutin, who is also a deputy prime minister, insisted he will stay on. "I've put in my best effort in everything I've done," he said.