Amid rising Covid-19 cases, Siriraj Piyamaharajkarun Hospital has reported that it cannot accept any more patients, as all beds in the intensive care unit (ICU) and inpatient department (IPD) are currently occupied. On its Facebook page, the hospital announced, “As well, the emergency department also has Covid-19 patients who are awaiting referral. Thus, the hospital cannot accommodate more Covid-19 patients. We apologize for this inconvenience.” The situation has raised concerns about healthcare capacity in Bangkok, with governor Chadchart Sittipunt describing the bed situation as worrying but not yet critical.
Situated on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, the 345-bed private hospital neighbors the highly-regarded Siriraj Hospital, which also felt compelled to issue a clarification in light of the news. Contrary to some claims, the public hospital stated that its bed situation for Covid-19 patients was still controllable and normal. It added that it had not increased the number of beds as it had during the peak of the pandemic.
Notably, the recent increase in infections has not followed the predicted trend of a decrease following the Songkran festival. Dr. Nitipatana Chierakul, head of the respiratory disease and tuberculosis division at Siriraj Hospital, cited the general election and a rise in tourist arrivals as contributing factors to the ongoing surge. While around 20 Covid patients sought treatment at Siriraj Hospital per day until early April, the figure has recently increased to about 400.
With country-wide hospital admissions averaging 2,632 Covid patients daily from May 14-20, according to the Department of Disease Control at the Ministry of Public Health, governor Chadchart expressed concern over the numbers. He reported that data from Bangkok Metropolitan Administration hospitals indicated a daily average of 1,300 to 1,500 infected people seeking treatment, cautioning that the actual numbers could be two to three times higher.
Chadchart added that roughly 2-3% of infected patients showed severe symptoms, particularly those with underlying health conditions and the elderly. At present, about 70% of hospital beds are occupied by Covid-19 patients. Encouraging vulnerable individuals to receive their Covid-19 booster shots, Dr. Apichart Asavamongkolkul, dean of the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, stated that his hospital was treating a range of patients, from those with mild symptoms to those with severe ones. The majority of cases among the so-called ‘608 high-risk group,’ which includes the elderly, pregnant women, and those with eight underlying diseases, were patients who had been unvaccinated for an extended period.