Emergency Covid-19 care for patients with moderate or severe symptoms under the Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients (Ucep) Plus scheme will take effect starting on Wednesday.
Dr Kiattiphum Wongrajit, permanent secretary for public health, said on Tuesday that the scheme will focus on those with moderate or severe symptoms (Yellow and Red categories respectively) who can receive free treatment at any private or state hospital.
Under the scheme, those with mild Covid-19 symptoms (Green category) will no longer be eligible for free treatment, Dr Kiattiphum said. They now have to use medical services based on their health insurance scheme, such as social security or 30-baht universal health care schemes. They can self-isolate at home, stay at community isolation facilities or hospitels (hotel-cum-hospitals), he said.
The Department of Health Service Support has explained the Ucep Plus programme to private hospitals while the National Institute for Emergency Medicine has also issued a set of criteria for determining the symptoms of patients in the Yellow and Red categories.
Kiattiphum: 'Green' patients must pay
Regarding how long Covid-19 patients will be hospitalised, Dr Kiattiphum said that currently, patients stay for 10 days, compared to 3-5 days in other countries. However, the Public Health Ministry will discuss revising the 10-day hospital stay period to the so-called 7+3 period -- seven days at hospitals and three days at home -- as part of measures to manage hospital capacity.
Meanwhile, deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek said on Tuesday the cabinet has approved an allocation of 34.5 billion baht to the National Health Security Office (NHSO) to reimburse contracted hospitals for Covid-19 treatment expenses from last December and February this year.
Deputy government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul said the cabinet approved the procurement of more than 17 million pills of favipiravir and 5,166 vials of remdesivir instead of the original plan to buy 50,000 doses of molnupiravir, an antiviral medication that inhibits the replication of certain RNA viruses.
Favipiravir has been designated as the main medication for Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms and the medicine has been administered to 87% of patients, while remdesivir is for patients who cannot use favipiravir, Ms Traisuree said.