Bangkok, Chonburi and other “dark red” coronavirus maximum control provinces must endure another six weeks of hard lockdown or Thailand could see 40,000 Covid-19 cases a day and more than 500 deaths, the Public Health Ministry said.
Speaking at a briefing Saturday, Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control, backtracked on earlier projections that the country’s coronavirus curve would peak in late August, saying that, even with a full month of lockdown in the 12 dark-red provinces, the country’s daily caseload likely will jump to 30,000 a day in September before gradually decreasing.
A department model projects 40,000 cases a day by mid-September if nothing is done, but even the best-case scenario is depressing news for those looking for an end to the crisis.
In additional to two full months of lockdown, the only way to avoid the worst-case scenario, Opus said, is to increase the pace of Covid-19 vaccinations among the elderly, chronically ill and pregnant women.
Public Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Rungruang Kitpati said only strict enforcement of control measures and the public’s total cooperation will flatten the curve, starting in 2-4 weeks.
He said 61.7 percent of the Bangkok residents have receied at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine as have 70 percent of the elderly. He predicted another 10 million vaccine doses from various makers will be available in August.
The peak of the third wave, which began in late March, won’t occur now until October, but should be lessened by up to 25 percent if current measures are maintained and good cooperation is provided, Opus said.
Permanent Secretary for Public Health Dr. Kiattiphum Wongrajit, reported that with 100,000 hospital beds originally available nationwide, another 175,000 have now been set up for Covi-19 patients specifically.
In Bangkok, 90 percent of provided beds have already been taken while 80 percent of beds in the provinces are occupied.
Due to the ministry being unable at this time to add more beds, it has decided to adapt its approach and has introduced home and community isolation so that only severe patients are admitted to hospital. Volunteer teams have also been dispatched to seek out infections.
Deputy Permanent Secretary for Public Health Dr. Yongyos Thammawuthi indicated that between Aug. 4-10 the office would send officers into Bangkok to carry out mass antigen-based tests and administer vaccines to healthy people at home.
Meanwhile, all public health systems are to be brought together to ensure the sick may readily access care and medicine.