Both the Thai Prime Minister and the Public Health Minister stated to the Thai press this afternoon, April 20th, 2021, that there were no plans to remove what some people call a controversial program to put everyone positive for Covid-19 under medical care, even if they are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.
The Department of Medical Services Director-General Dr. Somsak Akksilp also confirmed there were no plans to change the current policy, which puts anyone who tests positive for the virus into either a hospital, field hospital (larger barracks-style rooms with multiple patients), or a hospitel (former quarantine hotels for people coming back to Thailand from overseas.) under medical care.
Thai Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul added that with the current strain of Covid-19 people’s health conditions could change very quickly and even though one might be asymptomatic one evening they could develop serious symptoms overnight and that Thailand’s medical staff believe it is better to keep everyone under medical observation rather than allow self-isolation at home.
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan O’Cha also added that there were concerns that people self-isolating would not follow the rules and noted that many people live in large households in Thailand with potentially elderly and vulnerable family members and that therefore mandatory medical supervision was deemed to be required, thus building more field hospitals around the country.
Critics of the policy claim, however, that the medical supervision pact for those with very mild or even no symptoms would lead many to avoid Covid-19 testing entirely out of potential fear of ending up in a field hospital. Foreign nationals have also been commenting steadily on social media expressing concern for the cost of the care, which is free for Thai nationals but not for a foreigner (although is for migrant workers) and could end up becoming an expensive bill for someone who might have zero symptoms of the virus.
For now, however, Thailand is sticking by its plan to require mandatory medical supervision of all cases but Dr. Somsak did state that officials are quickly securing more hotels to use as “hospitals” to provide more comfortable experiences and ensure there is not a lack of beds.