The government has stepped up measures to contain the coronavirus or Covid-19 if the country reaches Stage 3, a full-blown pandemic, with the first measure to use a newly built hospital to treat only Covid-19 patients, as the number of infections jumped alarmingly to 114 yesterday.
The premier mentioned the prospect of moving to Stage 3 after chairing an urgent meeting on Sunday to step up measures to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. The government will “spend all the resources we need” in the fight against Covid-19, he said. In case Thailand enters Stage 3, in which people including those with no previous trips to virus-hit countries catch the disease, a dedicated hospital is needed, Gen Prayut said, referring to a new 100-bed hospital which has yet to officially open.
Authorities are also preparing other hospitals across Bangkok for Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms. They include the Royal Thai Airforce Hospital (Sikan), Golden Jubilee Medical Centre, Chakri Naruebodindra Medical Institute and Sirindhorn Hospital. Besides hospitals, Gen Prayut also told state agencies to brace for a worst-case scenario of the viral outbreak. Those involved in security must think whether they need to enforce new legal measures to cope with the situation. “It’s easy to announce them, but we also need to gauge their impact,” he said. Pub and entertainment venues may need to be temporarily closed after recent cluster infections involving people drinking together in a pub, he said.
The Thai traditional New Year festival usually sees a large number of people travel around country, mostly returning to their home provinces “which could fan the disease outbreak”, Dr Yong said. The number of patients in Thailand has remained relatively low, compared with those in other countries, until the numbers sharply spiked late last week. The country’s two-month “rehearsal” to contain the virus spreading has just ended, Dr Yong said.