Ministry reviews Covid fatalities reporting as all deaths not caused by infection
Covid-19 infection was not the main cause of deaths in some 10 to 30 per cent of daily fatalities attributed to the infection, the Public Health Ministry said on Thursday.
Kiattiphum Wongrajit, permanent secretary at the Public Health Ministry, said there must be a new way of reporting daily Covid-19 fatalities after the ministry found that the infection was not the main cause of deaths in about 10 to 30 per cent of cases.
Kiattiphum said the Covid-19 virus was just incidentally detected after these patients died of comorbidities or other causes.
“Some of them saw their comorbidities worsen so they had to be admitted to hospitals and when they were admitted, they had to be tested and the virus was detected,” Kiattiphum said.
“Some of them didn’t show symptoms of Covid but the virus was detected after their deaths.”
He said as of now all patients who were found to be infected with Covid-19 after their deaths had to be reported as Covid-19 fatalities although the virus was not the cause of the deaths.
Kiattiphum said the death report would be rewritten to separate patients with lung inflammation from those who did not have lung inflammation, and the reports would also state the main cause of death.
Kiattiphum unveiled the plan to review the report on Covid-19 fatalities after Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters earlier in the day that he had consulted with senior officials of the ministry about daily reports on Covid-19 fatalities.
Anutin said the daily reports seemed to show that Covid-19 fatalities had increased but, he said, people, who died due to other causes or diseases should be separated from the Covid-19 fatality reports.
Anutin said the meeting discussed that when patients died while they were on a ventilator and died of lung inflammation caused by Covid-19 virus, they could be classified as Covid-19 deaths.
But there were cases of bed-ridden people, who died and were later found to have the virus, Anutin added.
“These cases should be separated from the obvious cases of Covid-related deaths. There should be a clear-cut figure as to how many had died because of respiratory system failure or lung inflammations. The permanent secretary and Disease Control Department chief discussed this issue to prevent more public confusion,” Anutin said.
The minister said the Public Health Ministry has been receiving good cooperation from the people since the policy to treat mild or asymptomatic Covid patients as outpatients started on March 1.
“We have received good cooperation. This is a good indicator that when most people take medicine back home as OPD patients without being admitted, the public health system will be more efficient without causing excessive burden on hospitals and medical personnel,” Anutin said.
He said Covid-19 patients who received OPD treatment were sacrificing their right to receive three free meals a day so that the ministry could manage the overall patients.
Anutin added that the ministry would speed up vaccinations to minimise deaths so that Thailand would reach the criteria of having fewer deaths than the ratio of 1 death per 1,000 population to downgrade Covid to an endemic.
Kiattiphum said since the OPD measure started on March 1, hotline 1330 was overwhelmed with calls from people inquiring about the measure. He added that 60 per cent of the calls were from Bangkok.
On March 4, the Public Health Ministry decided to allow Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms to receive outpatient treatment from public hospitals in 14 provinces around Bangkok.
Public hospitals in 14 provinces, including Pathum Thani, Nakhon Nayok, Nonthaburi, Ayutthaya and Lop Buri, can treat some 18,000 Covid outpatients each day, Kiattiphum added.
He said the hospitals in the 14 provinces treated some 8,000 Covid outpatients from March 4 to 8. He said 50 per cent of them were administered anti-cough medicine, 22 per cent Fah Thalay Jon (Andrographis paniculata) herb and 28 per cent Favipiravir.
Meanwhile, Dr Somsak Akkasilp, director-general of the Medical Services Department, said guidelines have been set for declaring Covid-19 an endemic, which is scheduled for July 1.
As part of the preparations, the Public Health Ministry has ordered Covid-19 drugs from abroad.
He said the first lot of Molnupiravir had arrived and officials are putting labels on the drug packages to be used for elderly or people with eight comorbidities in various hospitals.
He said the ministry has yet to draft and sign a contract to buy Paxlovid drug, which is expected to be done next month.