Thailand approves self-tests, self-isolation as Covid-19 cases climb

Testing capacity under pressure as some 9,000 daily infections stretch resources

Health workers in Bangkok administer the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines to the elderly. Photograph: Sirachai Arunrugstichai/Getty Images

Health workers in Bangkok administer the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines to the elderly. Photograph: Sirachai Arunrugstichai/Getty Images

 

Thailand has given the go-ahead for home isolation of coronavirus patients with mild symptoms and use of home self-test kits, as a stubborn coronavirus outbreak puts pressure on its capital’s healthcare and testing capacity.

Thailand has so far been predominantly using RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) tests but long queues at testing facilities in Bangkok, the epicentre, have caused a rethink of measures to track infections.

The rapid antigen test kits, the approval of which was announced in the official Royal Gazette on Tuesday, should be available in stores next week.

A Food and Drug Administration official said efforts were being made to keep the price of the kits, which are less accurate than RT-PCR tests, at about 100 baht (€2.59).

Authorities also approved home and community isolation for asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic coronavirus cases, as daily infections of more than 9,000 stretch resources.

Thailand recorded 8,685 infections and 56 deaths on Tuesday, among the 353,712 cases and 2,847 fatalities overall, most of which have been since early April.

The outbreak was initially fuelled by the Alpha variant but 57 per cent of recent cases in Bangkok have been the highly contagious Delta variant, officials say.

Thailand has also reported seven cases of suspected mixed infection with the two variants at a Bangkok construction site. – Reuters