Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed the armed forces and the national police to join hands with City Hall to arrange for more than 200 rapid deployment teams to carry out door-to-door testing for Covid-19 in the worst-hit parts of the city.
The move is aimed at finding and isolating infected people to curb soaring transmissions in the capital, according to an informed source.
The teams will be sent out across Bangkok and the surrounding provinces. These teams will go door to door to offer a free Covid-19 testing service to people.
Those who test positive for the disease and have significant symptoms will be immediately transferred to a field hospital, while their contacts who may risk contracting the virus from these new cases as well will be advised to isolate themselves and monitor their health, said the source.
Herbal medicines made from green chiretta (Andrographis paniculata) and some fever-reducing drugs will also be provided in case they develop some symptoms later during their home quarantine.
In addition, Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) spokesman Maj Gen Thanathip Sawangsaeng said Gen Prayut had ordered the armed forces to support vehicles and facilities to transport Covid-19 patients from Bangkok and its surrounding areas to return to their home provinces to undergo treatment on a voluntary basis because of bed shortages in the capital and its surrounding provinces.
The prime minister also ordered Isoc to install Tu Pun Sook "happiness-sharing cabinets" in various communities to boost efforts to provide relief to the most affected people, he said.
Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday approved the sale of four over-the-counter Covid-19 antigen test kits, in order to improve public access to coronavirus screening tests.
The growing number of new infections has driven up demand for screening kits and left many people still waiting for the standard test which uses the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) technique, said Dr Paisal Dankhum, secretary-general of the FDA.
These four rapid test kits have therefore been approved to be sold over the counter for self-testing so that people can find out their Covid-19 status as early as possible, Dr Paisal said.
Previously classified as controlled medical devices, these four rapid test kits have been modified to make them more suitable for self-testing and are now approved by the FDA, he added.
Details of the kits can be found on the FDA website, said Dr Paisal.
Those caught selling and or advertising any rapid Covid-19 test kits other than the four approved by the FDA could face up to six months in prison or a maximum fine of 50,000 baht or both, he said.
The kits are already available for sale at certain state-run healthcare facilities, government offices and licensed pharmacies, he said.