As COVID-19 Patients Dying at Home, Gov’t Says No One Must Die at Home

A 57-year-old woman at home July 20, 2021 after becoming infected with COVID-19 but unable to secure a hospital bed. She died after the photo was taken. Her mother, 90, tested positive on July 21, 2021 and managed to get a bed at a state hospitel. Photo: Zendai

BANGKOK — The head of a COVID-19 volunteer aid group said Wednesday that the government should quickly provide more beds, or risk seeing even more people dying at home or on the streets. 

“There could be 10 people dying at home or on the streets tomorrow,” Chris Potanandana, co-founder of Zendai, said. Zendai isa Bangkok-based volunteer group set up soon after the current outbreak occurred in April.

Chris said this means the government has to quickly not build more beds in high-risk areas, but also ensure that the system for home and community quarantine is functioning. People tested positive should be able to treated at the hospital immediately. None of this is true at the moment, he said on the phone Wednesday.

“If you are tested positive, you still need to register with the hospital system to be qualified for a bed and counted as an infected person, but that’s not easy,” Chris said, adding that online registration is difficult.

Zendai Group was unable to help secure a hospital bed for a 57-year-old woman living in Chatuchak district, infected and in critical condition. She passed away on Tuesday before a hospital bed was secured. Her mother, 90, was by her side and tested positive today and has already been taken to a state hospital.

For the cases that were able to contact Zendai, about 30 people have died per week in the past four weeks because they were unable to get medical treatment.

For those who were able to obtain beds, the waiting time is around five days, with moderate symptoms becoming critical within that period.

“The current system is not capable of dealing with 10,000 plus new infected people,” Chris said.  “Whatever happened to the 4,500 beds to be opened at Suvarnabhumi Airport?” asked Chris. On Wednesday, the government announced that the field hospital there would open next month. 

Apisamai Srirangsan, spokeswoman for the government pandemic center, said during the news briefing on Wednesday that the government is rushing to set up more beds for critical patients and engage in proactive testing and vaccination. 

She said asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic make up almost 80 percent of infected people,

Proactive testing in Bangkok in 139 communities in Bangkok between July 15 to 20 found 37 infected out of 383 people tested. “These people must be safe and cared for,” she said, adding that 17,500 people have been vaccinated on-site under the new initiative. “There should be nobody dying at home.”

According to the pandemic center, 3,786 people are in critical conditions and 879 on ventilators. Wednesday saw a new high in terms of infected people with 13,002 new infections. As for deaths,108 people reportedly died over the past 24 hours.