The Department of Public Health assured that the proposed removal of COVID-19 as an emergency disease covered by the Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients (UCEP) scheme was only a protocol adjustment. He also noted that COVID-19 was no longer considered a new disease.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said COVID-19 treatments will still be covered by UCEP, but only for patients with critical symptoms such as difficulty breathing or severe cough. Those who are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms can be treated at home or in hospital. Their medical expenses will be covered by their health coverage or insurance policies.
Regarding the more contagious BA.2 sub-variant of the Omicron strain, the Minister said that current individual protection measures continue to be effective, while the roll-out of booster shots is accelerating.
Dr. Opas Karnkawanpong, Director General of the Department of Disease Control (DDC), noted that prevention measures and treatment protocols are the same regardless of the variant of the coronavirus.
Moreover, despite its higher transmissibility, the BA.2 subvariant does not appear to show any difference in immune evasion or severity compared to its BA.1 counterpart. The World Health Organization has also not declared BA.2 as a variant of interest or concern.
With the number of new cases on the rise, Dr Opas said Thailand’s death rate remains lower than other countries, with almost all deaths occurring in unvaccinated older people. (NNT)