Thai Virus Surge Prompts Concern Over ICUs, Vaccine Provide | Well being Information

By CHALIDA EKVITTAYAVECHNUKUL, Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) – Health officials in Thailand reported 6,087 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, setting a record for the second straight day as concerns about the lack of treatment facilities and vaccine supplies increased.

Officials also reported 61 deaths on Friday, bringing the total to 2,141.

Around 90% of Thailand’s 270,921 reported coronavirus cases and 95% of deaths were recorded during a surge that began in early April. There were 992 deaths in June, more than 15 times the total in Thailand for all of 2020.

The number of patients in intensive care units and on ventilators has risen nationwide in the past two weeks.

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The government’s Center for COVID-19 Situation Management said 39% of the new cases reported on Friday occurred in Bangkok, 25% in neighboring provinces and 36% in the other 71 provinces. The center’s deputy spokesman Apisamai Srirangsan said Bangkok authorities urgently need to set up isolation wards to segregate infected people in their local communities and add beds to treat severe cases.

Since the beginning of the year, critics have accused Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s administration of failing to ensure timely and adequate supplies of vaccines, and efforts to procure more have been slow.

Experts painted a bleak picture of how to prioritize who will be vaccinated at a Ministry of Health briefing on Friday.

Epidemiologist Kamnuan Ungchoosak said the arrival of the Delta variant of the virus, believed to be more contagious, could bring the death toll to 1,400 in July and in the coming months.

He said 80% of deaths are in the elderly and people with chronic diseases, and if they were vaccinated it could significantly lower the death rate while reducing the demand for intensive care beds. About 10% of elderly and frail patients die, while the rate is less than 0.1% in those 20 to 40 years old, he said.

At the same time, however, there are significant outbreaks among other groups, including people in construction labor camps and restaurant workers who also need to be vaccinated, he said.

“We are currently closed the warehouses and shops, but the number of cases is not going down and the economy is bad. But if we focus on the elderly and people with chronic illnesses, we may not have to close stores and the demand for beds from these two groups will also decline, ”Kamnuan said.

Prime Minister Prayuth sought in mid-October to open the country to vaccinated visitors from abroad without quarantine.

Sopon Mekthon, chairman of the government subcommittee on COVID-19 vaccine management, said only 2 million out of approximately 16 million old and frail people had vaccinated.

Nakorn Premsri, director of the National Vaccine Institute, said a Thai company, Siam BioScience, should provide the country with 10 million doses of locally made AstraZeneca vaccine a month, but that has been cut to 5-6 million doses. The company, owned by the King of Thailand, reportedly had production problems. It also has contracts for the supply of vaccines to other countries.

He said Thailand is trying to negotiate with other producers to fill the gap. So far, Thailand has only used vaccines from AstraZeneca and China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm, although the government says it has agreements to buy from Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson as well.

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