The country's first drive-through medication service that prescribes anti-viral Favipiravir pills to Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms free of charge has been rolled out in Chiang Mai province.
The drive-thru service was launched at Chiang Mai Municipal Hospital on Witchayanon Road in tambon Chang Moi of Muang district. There is no walk-in service available and appointments must be made in advance by calling the hospital directly (0893663215 or 0905230425).
Chiang Mai mayor Assanee Buranupakorn said the service is available for those who undergo self-testing with antigen test kits (ATKs) and get a positive result but only have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic, and who prefer to be treated at home.
The service is set up at the exit of the hospital. Relatives of patients can bring the prescription number to receive the Favipiravir pills on their behalf to help contain the virus, Mr Assanee said.
The hospital's two phone numbers are not connected to the National Health Security Office's "1330" hotline service or the coordinating centres of Chiang Mai provincial public health office, he noted.
Medical personnel will ask for more details about the patient before handing over a prescription number to receive 50 Favipiravir pills, as set by the Public Health Ministry. About 100 people a day have made appointments to get them so far, he said.
Mr Assanee said he hoped this would make the treatment system broadly accessible and reduce the number of Covid-19 patients.
Apart from the drive-thru service, Chiang Mai set up ATK testing sites at Nakornping sub-district office on March 3-4 and will do so there again on Monday. It will set up similar sites at Si Wichai sub-district office on March 8-10 and San Ku Lek Cemetery on March 11 and March 13-14 from 8am-3pm.
Those who test positive will receive free Favipiravir pills so they can treat themselves at home. People who suffer from chronic diseases or have low blood oxygen levels will be admitted to Nakornping Hospital.
Also, members of at-risk groups can take an ATK test at Chiang Mai Municipality Stadium, Mr Assanee added.
Meanwhile, Danai Sarapruek, director of the Public Health Promotion Division in Chiang Mai, said the province is logging between 300-350 new Covid cases a day.
Some 15,052 patients are currently being treated, he added.