Govt gearing up for virus reemergence

People, tracked down by the Thai Chana app, are tested by officials from the Disease Control Department in Rayong province last week. (Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrakool)

The Public Health Ministry’s Department of Medical Sciences (DMS) has assured the public of its Covid-19 testing capability as the country prepares for fresh infections now that most businesses have reopened.

The director-general of the DMS, Opas Kankawinphong, on Monday outlined what the public health community was preparing for the reemergence of the coronavirus although the country has no local transmissions for more than 50 days.

He said the number of laboratories, public and private, has increased to 209 facilities across the country, all of which can provide a 24-hour result.

To expand testing capacity, the department has also teamed up with the Department of Communicable Diseases Control to roll out saliva tests which have proved to be easier, effective and less costly elsewhere. Currently, the RT-PCR “swab test” is used and has a 95% accuracy.

In terms of testing, Mr Opas said that a total of 652,089 samples have been checked since January, with four cases in every 1,000 having come back positive. He said this indicates that the health authorities’ active search for Covid-19 cases is consistent.

“So we are ready and we have the resources to tackle any outbreak,” he said. Dr Opas added that the department is also monitoring virus strains.
“It is necessary to look for mutations to understand the threat it poses and so we can find drugs or develop vaccines,” he said.

Original writer: Apinya Wipatayotin
Source: Bangkok Post