Up to 12 Thai hospitals halt Covid-19 testing over bed shortages

Bangkok, Apr 9 (efe-epa).- At least a dozen private hospitals said they had stopped conducting Covid-19 tests as of Friday in Thailand’s capital as they could no longer accommodate patients.

The Bangkok medical centers issued brief notices on their social media pages saying they would update the public when the services resumed.

“Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital is currently unable to provide Covid-19 screening services until further notice. We will provide updates when the service is once again available. We apologize for any inconvenience,” Samitivej Hospital, one of the capital’s largest private medical centers, wrote Thursday on Facebook.

Thailand’s Covid-19 taskforce spokesman Taweesin Wisanuyothin said a lack of beds was responsible for the saturation, as all positive cases must be admitted to hospital.

The announcement came as a new cluster of infections was discovered earlier this week in Bangkok’s nightlife district, prompting many to get tested en masse prior to the country’s upcoming Songkran, or Thai New Year’s holiday, which will see millions traveling throughout Thailand.

“Due to high demand in Covid-19 testing, we will have to close the fast track service from now on,” Sukumvit Hospital wrote on its Facebook page. Among other centers that have stopped testing are Paolo Hospital Kaset, Chaopraya Hospital, Petcharavej Hospital, Praram 9 Hospital, Phayathai 1 Hospital, Ramkhamhaeng Hospital and Bumrungrad International Hospital.

Authorities ordered Friday the closure for two weeks of bars and other nightlife establishments in 41 provinces.

The measure, to remain between Apr. 10 and 23, will remain throughout Songkran.

Health authorities Friday confirmed 559 new cases of Covid-19, almost half of them in the capital, increasing the total caseload to 30,869 infections. One news death was recorded, increasing the toll to 96.

Medical experts previously weighed in on the idea that this outbreak could have spread among patrons at various bars in a popular nightlife area in Bangkok.

According to doctors, many of the cases were of the so-called British variant of the virus, which spreads more quickly. They said the current outbreak could take months to control.

The measure does not apply to restaurants, shopping or educational centers, and 35 other provinces remain unaffected by the nightlife restrictions.

Although the government said there is no ban on national travel, some provincial governors, such as Buriram, said they will ask travelers from high-risk areas for a negative test result if they do not want to quarantine to access the region.

Thailand began its vaccination campaign Feb. 28 with the jab from Chinese company Sinovac, although the rate of administration is slow because its strategy relies more on the AstraZeneca formula, most of which is produced in the country. EFE-EPA


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