Thailand steps up home isolation as Covid-19 cases strain hospitals

Capacity in Thailand's healthcare facilities dwindles amid a surge in cases driven by the Delta variant of the virus.
Capacity in Thailand's healthcare facilities dwindles amid a surge in cases driven by the Delta variant of the virus.PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Thailand will increase the number of people required to isolate at home with Covid-19 to 100,000, health officials said on Monday (Aug 2), as capacity in healthcare facilities dwindles amid a surge in cases driven by the Delta variant of the virus.

Earlier in the pandemic, all Covid-19 patients in Thailand were admitted to hospitals, but last month authorities introduced home isolation for more than 30,000 people with minor or no symptoms for Bangkok and surrounding provinces.

"There are currently 60,000 patients in home isolation and we expect to expand that capacity to 100,000," health official Natthapong Wongwiwat, told a news briefing.

Patients isolating at home will receive medical equipment, medicine, meals, and phone consultations with doctors, he said. "If their conditions worsen, they will be transferred to a field hospital or hospital."

A surge in Covid-19 cases driven by the Delta variant has been rattling Asia, including in countries like Thailand and Vietnam which had been relatively successful at containing the virus.

The highly transmissible variant was behind an increase in coronavirus cases in Thailand last month. The current outbreak began in April and is the country's worst since the pandemic began.

On Sunday, authorities in Bangkok extended tight restrictions in the capital.

90 per cent of Bangkok's 40,000 hospital beds were occupied as of Monday, permanent health secretary Kiatiphum Wongrajit said at a separate briefing. Nationwide, 80 per cent of Thailand's 175,000 hospital beds were occupied, he added.

The South-east Asian country's coronavirus taskforce on Monday reported 17,970 new cases, bringing its total caseload to 633,284 infections, with 5,074 deaths.

The jump in infections has increased pressure on the government to boost its sluggish pace of vaccinations, with only around 6 per cent of Thailand's more than 66 million people fully vaccinated.