Thailand to scrap Covid emergency treatment scheme as money runs out


From March, Covid-19 patients in Thailand will be treated under the gold card, social security or government welfare schemes because funds for the emergency treatment system have run out, a senior health official said on Friday.

Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) adviser Dr Udom Kachintorn said the government was no longer able to bear expense burdens of the Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients (UCEP) scheme.

He cited Sweden, saying its government had lifted most Covid-19 restrictions on Thursday due to insufficient budget to take care of Covid-19 patients.

Udom explained Thailand, too, should shift its focus towards the economy.

"Frankly, we should be boosting economic recovery to drive the country and prepare for the global transition," he said.

However, he said the government will not remove UCEP Covid treatment immediately and instead give people 1-2 months to prepare themselves.

He added that the Covid-19 situation was still within expectations of the Public Health Ministry, which expects daily infections to rise from around 15,000 currently to 17,000-18,000 by the end of February.

He said daily cases were not expected to hit 20,000 – a level that would pressure the public health system.

The proportion of patients with severe symptoms had dropped by 10 times from last year, Udom said.

"However, people should get their booster jab as it is now clear that it can protect them from Covid-19."

Highlighting the importance of halting the high infection rate among children, he said Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines are still available for kids aged 5-11 if parents are concerned about Pfizer's side effects.

He added that Public Health Ministry would permit cross-vaccination with different brands for children aged 12 and above.