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Phuket health officials concerned over ICU bed shortage

Phuket health officials concerned over ICU bed shortage

PHUKET: A leading disease expert at Vachira Phuket Hospital, the main government hospital in Phuket, has expressed concern that the rate of COVID infections across Phuket may result in a shortage of beds in intensive-care units on the island.

By The Phuket News

Wednesday 5 May 2021, 04:33PM

Dr Withita Jaeng-iam, an epidemiologist at Vachira Phuket Hospital explained her concerns during a press conference led by Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew that was broadcast live online this morning (May 5). 

“Right now, we are facing the English type of the virus or B.117 which is quick and easy to become infected, and which leads to pneumonia,” Dr Withita said.

“From the national reports, about one in four infected cases have symptoms of pneumonia. The first and second waves saw only a small number of cases with pneumonia,” she said.

“In Phuket, 50% of the [confirmed] cases do not have any symptoms, 30% have light symptoms of pneumonia, and 10% have severe symptoms. That means we need a lot of breathing apparatuses.

Of the patients in care at Vachira hospital, the main government hospital on the island, Dr Withita noted, “About 50% of the cases have symptoms of pneumonia for which patients need breathing apparatus.” 

Dr Withita also noted, “We have about 200 bed available for new cases in all hospitals, but we have only 19 beds in ICU rooms for patients with severe symptoms. 

“Right now, about 50% of the beds in ICU rooms are occupied, but the number of patients with pneumonia and the need for beds in ICU rooms are increasing. It is possible that we may face a shortage of ICU beds,” she said.

“If 80% of the total number of ICU beds become occupied, that means we are in the critical stage,” she noted.


Dr Chayanon Pucharoen, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies at the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism at the Prince of Songkla University (PSU) Phuket campus in Kathu, stressed the need to reduce the number of infections spreading across the island.

“From our research, in April, we had an infection rate of one case per 2.3-2.4 persons, which was very high. If we continue to have this high rate like we did in April, we will have more than 600 cases and face a shortage of beds,” he said.

“However, in the last week of April, the infection rate decreased to 1:2.2, and last week the rate was down to 1:1.93. So now, we have about 60% of ICU beds used.

“We have to unite to decrease the infection rate to be lower than 1:1.93 within this week, as we have new factors to think of,” he cautioned.


Also at the press conference was Phuket Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong, who reported that proactive screening for the virus is underway across the island.

“We went to conduct proactive screening in three areas ‒ Mai Khao, Cherng Talay and Rawai ‒ and our medical staff will go to other areas at risk,” he said.

“I think the proactive screening is a better way to protect and control the outbreak than asking people to quarantine for 14 days,” he added.

The latest report by the PPHO, marked as accurate as of 6pm last night, reports that 476 people are currently receiving treatment for COVID-19 in Phuket: 475 cases who were infected in Phuket plus one case who was infected elsewhere but is recovering in Phuket.

Of the 476 cases, 253 people have already been discharged from medical care, noted the report.

The remaining patients are in hospital care as follows: Vachira Phuket Hospital 47 cases; Patong Hospital 17; Thalang Hospital 17; Bangkok Hospital Phuket 36; Bangkok Hospital Siriroj 13; Mission Hospital Phuket 18; Phuket Provincial Hospital 2; and 73 at ’Filed Hospitals’.

Governor Narong noted, “If your area has a lot of infected cases and you want medical staff to conduct proactive screening [in your area], please inform us by calling 191 so that our medical staff can go to the area and take infected people into care and have high-risk people go through medical checks.” 

The leading hotpots for infections has changed over the past few days, with Wichit, Phuket Town, Rassada and Cherng Talay among the common areas for infections.

The latest map showing locations of infections across the island was released earlier today, reporting the number of confirmed infections in each area as follows:

  • Wichit ‒ 48 infections
  • Patong ‒ 45
  • Phuket Town 44 (Talad Yai 27, Talad Neua 17)
  • Rassada ‒ 44
  • Cherng Talay ‒ 43
  • Kathu ‒ 38
  • Chalong ‒ 34
  • Kamala ‒ 32
  • Srisoonthorn ‒ 29
  • Rawai ‒ 26
  • Thepkrasattri ‒ 19
  • Koh Kaew ‒ 13
  • Pa Khlok ‒ 10
  • Mai Khao ‒ 8
  • Sakhu ‒ 8
  • Karon ‒ 7

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DeKaaskopp | 06 May 2021 - 12:41:54

Yes Kurt,and the South African variant and the Brazilian  variant and whatever comes next. Your wisdom is sheer endless. 

Kurt | 06 May 2021 - 10:26:08

Covid-19 variants are 'Wild Cards'. Don't concentrate on UK variant only. The India variant is more threatening.
After Chalong hospital closure, with now 45 staff in quarantine ( what happened to in-patients?) it is time to have hospital intake protocols reviewed to avoid such. Speed up with getting quality vaccines. Present speed will take till end 2022. ( article BP)

Timothy | 06 May 2021 - 09:50:03

@Foot, there are several vaccines, BUT none available it seems. 

Kurt | 06 May 2021 - 09:12:25

After having 14 months  Covid-19 virus in Thailand, Phuket Health Dept. seems not to be prepared to handle larger number of patients. Why not, after seeing what goes on pandemic wise around world wide? That a explosion of infections is never far away with all the incoming variants. To keep the on Phuket living foreigners out of vaccination program is also not helping.

Foot | 06 May 2021 - 06:33:11

“...We have to unite to decrease the infection rate to be lower than 1:1.93 within this week, as we have new factors to think of..."   To "unite" would be a great idea.  If only there was a vaccine available that would reduce the spread of COVID.  What?  There is?  Never mind.


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