The decision was made by the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) to speed up the coronavirus treatment process for patients in community isolation waiting for medical care, said Apisamai Srirangson, assistant spokeswoman for the CCSA.
Generally, antigen tests are used to screen people suspected of contracting COVID-19. Those who test positive must then undergo an RT-PCR test to confirm the results before being admitted to the kingdom’s isolation programme.
Asked whether the RT-PCR testing method should be scrapped completely, Dr Apisamai said the Public Health Ministry is still concerned about the issue because antigen tests can provide quick results, though they may not always be accurate.
However, training sessions may be held for communities so people can learn how to conduct antigen testing for more accurate results, she said, adding the government will provide 8.5 million antigen test kits (ATK) to the public.
Somsak Akksilp, director-general of the Department of Medical Services (DMS), said a total of 30,036 COVID-19 patients in Bangkok have volunteered to self-isolate at home.
Of them, 28,785 have been covered by the medical care system set up by the National Health Security Office (NHSO), with the rest by the DMS, Dr Somsak said.
The Public Health Ministry previously allowed the public to purchase ATKs from pharmacies so they could conduct self-tests at home.
Dr Somsak said City Hall’s COVID-19 situation administration centre has instructed more than 60 public health service centres and private clinics in the capital to take care of asymptomatic patients and those with mild symptoms who self-isolate at home.
Attaporn Limpanyalert, deputy secretary-general of the NHSO, said 80% of COVID-19 patients are asymptomatic and can receive medical care at home.
He said efforts are being made to speed up the screening of potential patients for home isolation.
Patients under home isolation receive three meals per day, medication to treat their symptoms and basic equipment to monitor their condition, he said, adding a doctor will check in once per day using a video call.
People infected with the disease can register for home isolation services by contacting NHSO hotline 1330 or scan its QR code online via http://crmdci.nhso.go.th/.
Mr Attaporn said the NHSO has set up a testing centre at its head office located at the government complex on Chaeng Watthana Road. Those who test positive are asked to register for home isolation, he said.