COVID-19 situation in Thailand
Sirinun Pisamai, DVM, PhD
Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
Present status of Covid-19 pandemic in Thailand, most Covid-19 positive patients have been reported in Bangkok. I live in Bangkok, which is the most restricted place in Thailand. Today, August 20, 2021, the total number of Covid-19 cases is up to 1 million people. Newly confirmed cases are 19,851 cases. The total number of confirmed cases is 1,009,710. Among these, 5,388 cases are serious. The total number of death cases are 8,826 cases. On August 20, 2021, 260 new death cases are reported.
In my opinion, the biggest problem facing in my country is the Delta variant, a highly contagious SARS-CoV-2 virus strain, which is spreading in Thailand. To decrease the highly infectious, all activities have been restricted. The government has decided to announce the extending restriction or lockdown to the end of August. Everyone lives in high-risk provinces or dark-red zone except the people who have permission to control the disease will be required to stay at home from 9 pm to 4 am. The government asked all agencies should be work from home, except for those providing services in public health, disease control, and utilities. Only the food and grocery section (supermarket) as well as the drug stores within the Department stores were allowed to be open for business, and they stay open only until 8 pm. Restaurants and eateries are not allowed to dine in. Not allow to set up any activities meeting over 5 people has been announced. However, the government gives financial help to employees and employers who have been affected by this pandemic. For the lockdown policy, the punishment of people who are against the regulations will be fined 40,000 THB. Moreover, the department of disease control has established the rules to control the pandemic, such as all people must wear a mask when staying outside or in public places. The fines for people who break the rules will be fined a maximum of 20,000 THB.
For the diagnosis of Covid-19 in Thailand, we have 2 main types of diagnostic techniques, which are RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Test. For people who are at risk of disease, the government will provide the test for free, but it might be limited and might not cover all citizens. The big concern at this moment is the rapid and extensive spread of Covid-19. However, we could not separate all positive people from others. I believe that it is a huge problem that we are facing worldwide, especially in the Delta variant outbreak countries.
In the vaccination program in Thailand, we started to immunize with 2 doses of inactivated vaccine (Sinovac) for all healthy people and the medical profession. The people who are at higher risk of serious symptoms have started to be vaccinated with the viral vector vaccine (Astra Zeneca). Thailand has administered Covid-19 vaccines to about 18% of all citizens and 8% got full doses of vaccination (at least 2 doses). We do not need to pay for core vaccines managed by the government. For traditional treatment, the Andrographis paniculata extract, a traditional drug, has been suggested to decrease the common cold symptoms in cases of non-serious Covid-19 positive patients by the Food and Drug Administration of Thailand. Further investigations are being performed.
Education during the Covid-19 pandemic is one of the big obstacles facing us at this moment. Online learning has been introduced. Honestly, a good signal of the internet is unavailable for all areas. The associated organizations suggest expanding the internet signal to all distant areas. Some organizations have come out to support educational activities. For example, Chulalongkorn University provided an internet SIM card for all students who do not have access to a Wi-Fi signal.
From my perspective, the disadvantages of this pandemic have affected all. Medical, economic, social and educational professions have been disrupted. Furthermore, the mental health of all people during this situation is an important problem that we should be concerned about. My work and profession is based on education and health. It might be difficult to manage under this pandemic, but I think we can overcome and learn from the hardship at this moment. Veterinarians are still working to solve animal health problems. Since we could not work from home, we still can modify and adapt our work while adhering to the strict measures for Covid-19 prevention and control. Some technology has been introduced to support all clients and their animals, such as telemedicine. Otherwise, the opportunities to learn from this bad situation are new evidence and findings. New vaccine technologies and new diagnostic tools have been established against this disease. For instance, Chula-Cov19 mRNA vaccine to vaccinate Thai people and Sniffer dogs to find infected people have been invented or developed at Chulalongkorn University. When the Chula-Cov-19 vaccine become available for the public, it might be used as a booster vaccine (3rd dose of the Covid vaccine).