Doctor says too early to drop guard

Doctor says too early to drop guard

Rising cases, lung infections 'a concern'

A street food vendor waits for customers on Khao San Road, Bangkok, last month. (Photo: Pornprom Satrabhaya)
A street food vendor waits for customers on Khao San Road, Bangkok, last month. (Photo: Pornprom Satrabhaya)

A leading pulmonary disease specialist has called on the Ministry of Public Health to postpone its plan to declare Thailand in the post-pandemic stage from today, a prelude to declaring Covid-19 an endemic disease.

The number of new patients infected with Covid-19 admitted to privately run Vichaiyut Hospital is rising at a high enough rate for the hospital to reopen its Covid-19 ward, said Dr Manoon Leechawengwongs, a pulmonologist.

The planned declaration should be put on hold until the situation improves significantly, he said, adding that all hospitals in Bangkok are now seeing a spike in Covid-19 cases.

Although most of the new patients treated at Vichaiyut did not have severe infections because they all have been vaccinated, the alarming increase in numbers should be considered a cause for concern, Dr Manoon warned.

His observation corresponds with a recent jump in lung infections among new Covid-19 infections reported by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

That number hit 684 on Thursday, marking a steep climb over the past two weeks, said Dr Apisamai Srirangson, assistant spokeswoman for the CCSA.

The number is expected to keep rising but remain within the range of previous forecasts made before the face-mask mandate was lifted and night entertainment venues were allowed to reopen in 31 provinces, she said.

The average hospital bed occupancy rate has consequently risen but is also still within an acceptable level at 9.9%, she said. Hospitals in provinces such as Samut Prakan are seeing a higher rate in excess of 20%, she added. Of all 14 Covid-19-related deaths recorded on Thursday, six had not received any vaccinations, Dr Apisamai noted, suggesting that doses and boosters should be sought.

Moreover, the country is well below its target of getting 60% of the population to receive booster shots, having managed to hit just 46.5%, she said. Only Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan and Phuket have met the target.

The CCSA is not considering raising Covid-19 control measures at the moment, as the number of new patients found to be infected by the more transmissible BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants remains low, Dr Apisamai said.

Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control, played down concern over the number of new infections, saying the rise has only been observed in certain provinces, while the number of severe cases has slightly increased.

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