COVID deaths and ventilator demand on the rise in Thailand

Following a long holiday weekend in celebration of Asarnha Buch Day and Buddhist Lent last Friday, July 15, Thailand Department of Disease Control (DDC) Director-General Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong said an increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths have been reported in Bangkok and other major cities nationwide.

There are also more hospitalized patients needing ventilators due to severe coronavirus symptoms. Dr. Opas added that the agency is currently closely monitoring the situation and is urging all hospitals to prepare their personnel and resources for an emergency.

From July 5-17, the average number of ventilator-dependent patients increased from 300 per day to 369 per day while the average number of daily fatalities increased from 16 to 21. Dr. Opas also reported an increase in fatalities among the elderly and those with underlying diseases who received their third COVID vaccination dose more than three months ago.

The DDC Director-General said people infected with the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants reported experiencing sore throat, irritation, and muscle and body aches. He advised those exhibiting any of the symptoms to test themselves immediately and seek medical care at their nearest hospital.

In response to the Ministry of Public Health’s concerns about the risks posed by the launch of an outdoor film festival in the city, Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt insisted on holding more outdoor public events to stimulate the economy, saying he did not believe they were to blame for a rise in new COVID-19 infections.

Chadchart reasoned that these outdoor activities divert individuals away from confined areas, such as shopping malls, where the risk of COVID transmission may be higher. He nevertheless affirmed that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) would heed the advice of health authorities and step up screening measures at all future events.

The deputy city clerk, Dr. Wantanee Wattana, attended an emergency meeting hosted by the Ministry of Public Health on July 18 to discuss the overall situation, a downscaling of public activities, and various disease preventative measures.

Following the meeting, Dr. Wantanee confirmed that all BMA activities are being conducted in accordance with regulations of the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration. She expressed hope, however, that as the number of new infections decreases, the restrictions would be relaxed in favor of a better balance between public health security and economic growth.

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