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Ventilator fears as deaths rise

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Ventilator fears as deaths rise

Covid infection spike ‘to peak in early May’

A woman wears a raincoat, face mask and gloves as she waits for her turn to undergo an ATK test for Covid-19 at Bang Khunthian Geriatric Hospital on Sunday. (Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrakool)

The number of Covid-19 patients who suffer from lung inflammation and require the use of ventilators may increase after Songkran, a health official at the Department of Disease Control (DDC) warned.

Dr Sumanee Wacharasint, director of the DDC’s Risk Communication and Health Behavioral Development Bureau, said that as of Tuesday there were 1,862 Covid-19 patients suffering from lung inflammation. Of them, 781 were on ventilators.

That number “continues its rising trend and is expected to increase further after Songkran”, she said at a press briefing.

A graphic presented at the briefing showed the daily tally of patients with severe symptoms expected to peak in early May with more than 1,600 patients on ventilators a day unless people strictly follow Covid-19 Universal Prevention precautions.

Dr Sumanee said over the past seven days, the fatality rate exceeded 80 a day and many of those were elderly and at-risk groups including those with underlying health problems such as obesity, cancer and kidney disease.

Of the 91 deaths recorded on Tuesday, 42 had not received any vaccinations.

“Vaccine immunity wears off after around three months. Therefore, it is necessary, particularly for the elderly and at-risk groups, to get boosters to prevent the worst effects of the virus,” Dr Sumanee said.

Only 37.2% of the elderly and at-risk groups have received booster shots, she said.

She also urged parents to have children aged 5-11 years vaccinated because not many kids in this age group have been vaccinated and they too can be vulnerable to the worst of the disease.

She said the Public Health Ministry will work with the Interior Ministry to launch a door-to-door campaign to vaccinate senior citizens and at-risk groups ahead of Songkran.

Since there is no approved vaccine for children under five years of age yet, parents must take strict precautions to prevent them from contracting the virus, Dr Sumanee said, adding about 90% of children in this group get infected by family members or close acquaintances.

People who plan to return to their home provinces during the festival have been urged to monitor and observe their health condition in advance, including taking self-antigen tests.

Jakkarat Pittayawong-anont, director of the DDC’s epidemiology division, said that more Covid-19 infections and deaths have been detected among young children recently — including 27 deaths among children aged under five in the latest wave caused by the Omicron variant.

“Some 104 deaths among children up to the age of 14 years were recorded in both April 2021 and this January. Children with underlying health problems were more vulnerable. Therefore, parents must take special care of them,” he said.

The country registered 91 Covid-19 fatalities and 21,088 new cases during the previous 24 hours, the Public Health Ministry said on Tuesday. The figures did not include 10,884 positive results from antigen tests.

The 91 fatalities were aged from five months to 96 years.

Bangkok had the most new cases at 3,286, followed by 1,076 in Chon Buri, 925 in Nonthaburi, 884 in Samut Prakan, 679 in Nakhon Si Thammarat and 629 in Samut Sakhon.

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