According to John Hopkins University’s 2019 Global Health Security Index, Thailand is the 6th most prepared country in the world to confront epidemics such as COVID-19. The Thai people have experience taking on the Avian Flu, SARS and MERS-CoV in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO). When the COVID-19 pandemic commenced out of Wuhan, the Thai Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) sprang into action immediately setting up a surveillance protocol and activating Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). They were the first country outside of China to detect a COVID-19 case.
Notable Thailand Effort to Contain COVID-19
With 70 million people, Thailand purportedly had the first case outside of China, its neighbor, yet has under 1,000 COVID-19 cases and only 4 reported deaths. An incredible record considering all the variables involved here. How did they do it thus far?
The Thai government recently issued a press release showcasing the country’s sophisticated public health emergency readiness leveraging a number of participating institutions such as the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Diseases Health Science Centre out of Chulalongkorn University and various dedicated public sector divisions. Once China shared the COVID-19 genome, the university research team confirmed a match immediately leading to a chain of events to help contain the spread of the virus.
Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute (BIDI)
This specialized division within the Department of Disease Control specializes in epidemiology and spearheaded patient treatment as well as COVID-19 research. The treatment rates have been effective with a high recovery rate.
Rajavithi Hospital Takes Aggressive Actions
By February 2020, physician teams at Rajavithi Hospital were on the move combatting COVID-19 and employing a combination of anti-influenza (Oseltamivir) and anti-HIV medications (Lopinavir and Ritonavir), successfully treating severe COVID-19 cases within 48 hours. Although they were essentially experimenting this aggressive and calculated push (backed by experience with other pandemics), this has paved the way for future research on antiviral medications.
Unlike the challenging start faced in America, Thailand has established a robust COVID-19 testing infrastructure aggressively diagnosing cases within 24 hours. With wide access to testing now ever more medical facilities are conducting systematic testing as this approach has shown to help contain the pandemic.
Countries that have more successfully beat back the virus have also used PR. The MOPH has kept the public continuously aware of the risks associated with this contagion. Via multiple channels from Facebook and Twitter to television and news, the Thai government understood from past experiences with SARS and MERS, for example, that a big part of beating back COVID-19 includes making the public aware of exactly how to conduct themselves.