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Thailand sends COVID-19 patients to hometown by train


Authorities in Thailand have begun transporting some people who have tested positive for the coronavirus from Bangkok, which is their hometown, to isolation and treatment to ease the burden on the capital’s overwhelming medical system.

BANGKOK – Authorities in Thailand began transporting some people who tested positive for the coronavirus from Bangkok to their hometowns for isolation and treatment on Tuesday to ease the burden on the capital’s overwhelmed medical system.

A train carrying over 100 patients and medical workers in full protective gear left the city for the northeast.

It will drop patients in seven provinces, where they will be met by health officials and taken to hospitals.

Medical officials in Bangkok said on Monday that all ICU beds for COVID-19 patients in public hospitals were full and that some of the sick were being treated in emergency rooms. Officials said they have asked army doctors to help in civilian hospitals.

“We will continue this service until there are no COVID-19 patients left to get beds in Bangkok,” Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charanveerakul said.

He said buses, vans and even planes could be deployed to send people back to less-affected provinces.

Thailand initially kept coronavirus cases under control but the outbreak has increased in recent months.

Amid reports of people dying on the streets or in their homes waiting for treatment, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s government is facing harsh criticism for its handling of delta variant-fuelled growth and a slow vaccination programme.

Thailand’s total of nearly 500,000 confirmed cases and more than 4,000 deaths, 137,263 cases and 2,176 deaths, has been recorded in Bangkok.

Most of the 4,451 beds for COVID-19 patients in the city of about 15 million are occupied by those with mild or no symptoms. Hospitals are beginning to urge such patients to isolate at home or in community isolation centres.

Bangkok Gov. Ashwin Kwanmuang said the city government would coordinate with the state railways to set up 240 beds in 15 railway trains in a maintenance shed at the city’s sprawling Bang Soo station as a “pre-admission center” for coronavirus patients without symptoms. .

He visited the police station on Tuesday and inspected the vehicles. He said they should be ready for use by Friday.

The government said the supply of medical oxygen is adequate and the manufacturers have been asked to ensure that enough is available. But people sick with the coronavirus who can’t find a place to be treated, don’t always get supplemental oxygen.

Meanwhile, some religious Buddhist temples in the country have started conducting free cremations as the number of deaths continues to rise, the government said.

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