Army helicopter flies Covid patients home

Army helicopter flies Covid patients home

Covid-19 patients with only mild symptoms board the army MI-17 helicopter at the Army Aviation Centre in Bangkok on Tuesday. (Photo: Wassana Nanuam)
Covid-19 patients with only mild symptoms board the army MI-17 helicopter at the Army Aviation Centre in Bangkok on Tuesday. (Photo: Wassana Nanuam)

An army transport helicopter began a service taking Covid-19 patients back to their home province for treatment on Tuesday, flying people with mild symptoms from Bangkok to Tak and Phitsanulok.

The Russian-built MI-17 took off from the Army Aviation Centre in Bangkok at 11am and landed first in Tak province, where some patients alighted and were met by health officials.

There, more Covid-19 patients boarded the helicopter and were flown to Phitsanulok, where they were also handed over to health officials. 

A total of 11 Covid-19 patients were taken home on the first day of the helicopter service.

The army began flying Covid-infected people with mild symptoms to their home provinces on July 29, using a C295 fixed-wing transport aircraft. To date the plane has taken 84 patients on four flights to Nan and Nakhon Phanom.

The MI-17 joined the service on Tuesday, taking 11 patients home on its first flight.

The helicopter was commissioned in 2011 under a project to increase the army's disaster relief capabilities. It has been stationed at Wing 41 of the Army Aviation Centre.

It has been used to fly food, medicine and essentials to people affected by floods. It has also been used to combat wildfires.

The army also uses it for emergency operations. It was used during the rescue of 12 young boys and their coach, the  "Wild Boars" football team, trapped in Tham Luang cave complex of Khun Nam Nang Non forest park in Chiang Rai province in 2018.

Covid-19 patients who need transport to their home province can phone the army's Covid-19 relief coordination centre at 02-092-7766 around the clock.

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