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Despite declining infection rates, Thai crisis looms after Songkran travels

New case numbers are falling but the numbers of seriously ill and dying patients are surging.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
Commuters wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk to workplaces at Saen Saep pier in Bangkok, Thailand, April 16. Photo: AP
Commuters wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk to workplaces at Saen Saep pier in Bangkok, Thailand, April 16. Photo: AP

Although daily case numbers are declining, Thailand, and especially Bangkok, faces a crisis because the number of severely ill patients and deaths is rising, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) warned on Friday, the Bangkok Post is reporting.

CCSA spokesman Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin said the number of new Covid-19 cases nationwide fell from 2,174 on Tuesday to 1,579 on Friday. Figures for Bangkok were also declining, from 993 on Tuesday to 417 on Friday.

“Despite the falling numbers, we cannot be happy,” Taweesilp said. “The number of critically ill patients, those dependent on ventilators, and daily death numbers are rising.”

There were 563 severely ill patients last Sunday, increasing to 871 on Thursday. The number on ventilators went up from 150 last Sunday to 250 by Thursday.

“This is a crisis, unless these figures can be reduced,” Taweesilp said.

He blamed the present wave of Covid-19 on infections at entertainment venues. This month, nearly 8,000 cases were linked to such places, of which nearly 7,000 were in Bangkok.

Although the mid-April Songkran holiday celebrations were cancelled, infected people still left Bangkok for their home provinces and spread the disease there, Taweesilp said.

“Resources are being mobilised to control the disease in Bangkok. There is not much time left for us to successfully manage this. It is important that people minimise travel,” he said.

The government is also aiming to use more digital technology to tackle the Covid-19 surge.

The Digital Council of Thailand (DCT) is working with 36 leading tech organisations and the Medical Council of Thailand (TMC) to provide digital technology for field hospitals treating Covid-19 patients.

“Digital technology can play an immense role in dealing with the country’s third wave of the pandemic,” DCT president Suphachai Chearavanont said in a video-conferenced press briefing on Friday.

The digital organisations involved include the Thai arms of global tech giants Microsoft, Huawei, Oracle, Ericsson and Amazon Web Services, as well as local mobile operators.

The use of digital technology is intended to minimise infection risks among medical personnel, support communications between field hospitals and ease the impact of the crisis, according to the Bangkok Post.

TMC secretary-general Ittaporn Kanacharoen said the shortage of medical staff during the rise in the number of Covid patients in field hospitals made it important to use technology to help take care of patients and to streamline the operation, including communications between field and main hospitals.