Shortage of beds for critically ill patients raises concerns that the death toll from the disease could rise sharply
People wait to receive a shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine during a mass vaccination against Covid-19 at a vaccination center in Bangkok on June 9. (Photo: AFP)
State-run hospitals in Bangkok have run out of beds for Covid-19 patients in critical condition even as the rate of infections is reaching a “critical level” in the capital, according to experts.
The Southeast Asian nation had a record 51 deaths from Covid-19 on June 23 while 3,174 people tested positive for the virus. The day before, there were 35 Covid-19 deaths and 4,059 new infections.
By comparison, throughout all of last year Thailand recorded only around 100 deaths from Covid-19 and the country’s daily infection rate remained in single digits.
Thailand has recorded a total of 1,700 deaths and 230,000 infections, some 200,000 of which have been logged since April this year during an especially virulent third wave of infections.
Yet even as the contagion continues to take its toll, severely ill patients’ access to hospital beds with life-saving equipment has become “extremely limited” in Bangkok, according to Dr. Somsak Akksilp, director-general of the Department of Medical Services.
As of June 21, all 409 beds set aside for Covid-19 patients in critical condition were occupied in government-run hospitals in Bangkok with the last 20 beds being reserved for emergencies in case some patients required urgent medical interventions, according Somsak.
The source of infection for numerous new Covid-19 cases cannot be clearly identified, which is an indicator the virus has taken hold in many communities
“The limited number of hospital beds is stalling the work of medical personnel tasked with finding beds for patients who need to be urgently admitted to hospital for treatment, especially in the capital,” a Thai newspaper reported Somsak as saying.
The shortage of hospital beds for critically ill patients has raised concerns that the country’s death toll from the disease could rise sharply.
Despite a partial lockdown that has been in place in Bangkok for several weeks, the rate of new infections does not appear to be slowing, warned Prof. Adune Ratanawichitrasin, deputy dean at the faculty of medicine of Siriraj Hospital in the Thai capital.
In fact, Adune said, the rate of infections is reaching a “critical level” and the pandemic could soon spiral out of control in Thailand.
“The source of infection for numerous new Covid-19 cases cannot be clearly identified, which is an indicator the virus has taken hold in many communities,” the physician said in a post on Facebook.
Many of the hardest-hit communities include Bangkok’s overcrowded inner-city slums where social distancing is hard or even impossible to maintain.
Communities of migrant workers in and around Bangkok have also seen larger outbreaks as a result of overcrowding and unsanitary conditions.
The government has pledged to keep the outbreak under control through a mass vaccination drive, but a chronic shortage of adequate doses has meant that only an average of 238,000 doses have been administered each day nationwide since a mass vaccination rollout on June 7.
So far only around 2 per cent of the country’s 69 million people have been fully vaccinated.
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