Thailand ministry: Hospitals lack beds

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
About 1,800 cardboard beds are prepared at a Covid-19 field hospital inside a warehouse at Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok as the Thai capital faces a shortage of hospital beds as cases soar. AFP

Thailand's health ministry sounded the alarm over Bangkok’s dire lack of hospital beds and isolation facilities on July 29 as Covid-19 cases and deaths soared to a new record.

The Southeast Asian country is struggling to contain its latest outbreak fuelled by the highly contagious Delta variant.

Despite the hardest-hit provinces being placed under severe restrictions and a nighttime curfew, Thailand on July 29 registered a new single-day record of 17,669 cases and 165 deaths.

“In big hospitals, all [ICUs] are overoccupied. They have 10 beds for ICU but they have to handle 12 ICU cases,” ministry director-general for Medical Services Somsak Akkasilp told an uncharacteristically candid press conference, adding that medics were moving critical patients from the emergency room once the beds are vacated.

Hospitals in the capital have the capacity to manage 1,000 new patients a day, but Somsak said they were well past that number – with 4,000 new cases recorded in Bangkok alone on July 29.

While authorities are starting to recommend home isolation for milder cases, there are issues with supplying medicine to them, said Somsak.

In addition, the city’s isolation and quarantine facilities are getting filled, and metropolitan authorities are working with private hospitals to free up more beds.

“But I have to speak frankly – no matter how much we increase it, it is not likely to be enough for this current outbreak,” Somsak said. “We do not know if the pandemic has reached its peak yet … We have to flatten the curve.”

Thailand has reported more than 561,000 coronavirus cases and 4,562 deaths.