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Treatment of severe Covid symptoms still free after March 1: Anutin

Covid-19 will be taken off the emergency treatment list on March 1 to maintain the stability of the Thai public health system, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Thursday.

"However, people who have difficulty breathing, fatigue and severe cough will still be able to receive [free] treatment under the Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients (UCEP) scheme [after March 1]," he said. "Meanwhile, Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms will receive treatment under the home isolation scheme."

Anutin said Omicron infections were less likely to lead to severe symptoms, adding that his ministry would be able to control the Covid-19 situation if more people were vaccinated. He urged over 2 million unvaccinated seniors to get their jabs to protect themselves against developing severe symptoms.

"Currently, 85 per cent of Covid-19 patients are not developing symptoms while over 90 per cent of Covid-19 deaths are among unvaccinated and vulnerable people," he said. "However, the ministry is making efforts to minimise loss of life."

Availability of hospital beds remains high, thanks to people cooperating with home and community isolation schemes, Anutin added.

Ministry permanent secretary Kiattiphum Wongrajit confirmed Covid-19 will be removed from list of emergency diseases, as most cases involved no more than mild flu symptoms while about 700 patients had been admitted to hospitals.

He said Covid-19 patients suffering from other emergency diseases, such as chronic kidney disease, can receive treatment under the UCEP scheme.

"Hence, we are considering a UCEP Plus scheme to support Covid-19 patients who have other emergency diseases.”

The Department of Health Service Support and National Institute for Emergency Medicine will decide which patients are eligible for treatment under the new scheme, he said.

He added that Covid-19 patients who don't have other emergency diseases can receive treatment depending on their healthcare rights and symptoms.

"Hotel isolation is available for any patient who is unable to receive treatment under home isolation," he said.

Department of Disease Control director-general Dr Opas Karnkawinpong said he didn’t want people to panic over the Omicron strain, adding that the Public Health Ministry and related agencies are monitoring the issue closely.

He advised people to keep their guard up by wearing face masks.

The number of Covid-19 patients with severe symptoms has not increased, he said, while the death rate has dropped from 0.22 per cent at beginning of January to 0.2 per cent.

"Meanwhile, the Covid-19 death rate worldwide dropped from 2.2 per cent to 1.4 per cent," he explained.

He also urged the elderly to get their jabs as they were at risk of death from Covid-19. He asked seniors to be careful as their highest risk was from infection among family members.

Published : February 18, 2022