Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul insisted on Monday on moving ahead with a plan to change the conditions for Covid-19 treatment, saying the decision was in line with a policy to downgrade the coronavirus.
He reaffirmed his stance after his deputy, Sathit Pitutecha, on Sunday called on him to delay the March 1 implementation for another month. He was worried about Omicron case surges in recent days.
The Public Health Ministry plans to remove Covid-19 treatment from the list of conditions covered by the Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients (UCEP) scheme from the beginning of next month.
The change means people who test positive for the coronavirus but do not need critical care have to go to the hospital where they are registered under their welfare scheme, to be covered for the cost.
Only those with a critical, secondary infection brought on by Covid-19 will be covered by the UCEP. The UCEP allows patients to seek treatment at any hospital free of charge for three days and then they are transferred to their registered hospital.
Mr Anutin said no one would be left behind by the policy change as the ministry planned to downgrade Covid-19 from a pandemic to endemic disease.
The ministry plans to declare Covid-19 an endemic disease by the end of this year.
The country's 16,330 new cases reported on Saturday were the highest since Aug 29 last year. New cases have jumped to more than 10,000 a day since early this month, with 14,900 cases reported on Monday.