Infected urged to use free transit scheme
Anyone infected with Covid-19 who wants to be treated in their hometown should contact the National Health Security Office (NHSO) to claim free, isolated seats on transport services, says the Ministry of Public Health.
The services are being offered by the government, after at least 31,175 infected people left the capital during the lockdown. It is also seen as a way of alleviating pressure on city hospital beds.
Thongchai Kiratihatthayakon, the ministry's deputy permanent secretary, said the government supports those who wish to make the trip but must ensure they do so safely without infecting others.
Only those with mild symptoms can use the service, and they must first contact the NHSO's hotline 1330 or download its QR Code to reserve their spot, he said, adding that most people are able to travel within three days of registering.
"We want infected people who want to go home to register with the NHSO so they come under our medical surveillance and treatment system and can be monitored during home isolation," he said.
He added that since the capital's lockdown last Monday, around 500,000 people had departed the city, with 31,175 provincial returnees testing positive so far.
According to the ministry, 70.3% were diagnosed with mild infections, followed by 21.9% with moderate symptoms and 7.7% in need of critical care.
There are about eight million people living in the capital, of whom 2.4 million are workers from the other provinces, mainly those in the Northeast.
Attaporn Limpanyalert, deputy secretary general of National Health Security Office, said the office has been working with the ministry, including agencies such as the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Defence to provide the free transport. The office submits requests to the Ministry of Public Health every day.
The healthcare office is covering the cost of each trip to a maximum of 3,700 baht and has already taken 1,000 people infected with Covid-19 home.
The service provides door-to-door care with patients being escorted by bus, train and even plane back to their home provinces, according to Mr Attaporn.
Meanwhile, cabinet members have been asked to oversee the transport of patients back to home.
For example, Anutin Charnvirakul and other members of the Bhumjaithai Party are responsible for the lower northeastern region, including Buriram where it has strong support
Interior minister Anupong Paochinda is in charge of Petchaburi and Ratchaburi; and Satit Pitutacha, deputy public health minister, is overseeing transport services to Rayong.