Anutin wants Covid reclassified to let govt avoid paying for treatment

Anutin wants Covid reclassified to let govt avoid paying for treatment

Officials help Covid-19 vaccine recipients fill in forms before inoculation at Bang Sue Grand Station in Bangkok on Sunday. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)
Officials help Covid-19 vaccine recipients fill in forms before inoculation at Bang Sue Grand Station in Bangkok on Sunday. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)

Ending the government's burden of paying for Covid-19 treatment is more important than declaring the disease endemic, so the health minister is proposing to reclassify it as a "disease under surveillance".

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Wednesday the Public Health Ministry wanted Covid-19 to be reclassified as a disease under surveillance instead of a dangerous communicable disease.

He said that with the redefinition of the disease, the government would not have to cover its treatment costs. As the Covid-19 situation improved and the severity of the disease declined, redefining it as a disease under surveillance would mean it could be covered by patients' conventional insurance schemes, he said.

"As the situation changes, the government doesn't want to take a financial burden. Covid-19 patients should resort to their own health insurance packages like for other diseases," Mr Anutin said.

Daily Covid cases had dropped below 5,000 and fatalities below 50, while 137 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines had been administered, he said.

The health minister had not set a timeframe for the Covid reclassification. He said it should at least wait for the assessment of the Covid-19 situation two weeks after the reopening of entertainment places on Wednesday.

The government has closed entertainment places for over two years to contain Covid-19.

Mr Anutin said that the National Committee on Communicable Diseases would consider the reclassification proposal and the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration would make the final decision.

There were 30 diseases under surveillance including dengue haemorrhagic fever, malaria and severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), he said.

Regarding the Public Health Ministry's previous plan to declare Covid-19 an endemic disease on July 1, Mr Anutin said that should wait for a relevant signal from the World Health Organization.

Compared with the government's financial burden of paying for people's Covid treatment, whether it was declared endemic or not would not matter, he said.

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