Critics have voiced concerns over reports that the Ministry of Public Health will cease providing daily bulletins containing the number of new COVID-19 infections over the preceding 24-hour period, saying members of the public have the right to be kept abreast of the situation without having to seek the information themselves online.
Dr Kiatiphum Wongrajit, permanent secretary for public health, has said the daily update on the number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases would possibly end soon as health authorities change the focus of their briefings to the emergence of new clusters of what is thought will soon be classified an endemic disease.
Currently, about 60% of all people infected with the virus are receiving care under the government’s Home and Community Isolation programme, he said.
“The figures are already out of date when we announce them. So what’s the point? We previously gave the number of [daily] infections because we were afraid they would overwhelm hospitals’ capacity, but now they don’t. Every patient is well taken care of,” he said.
The ministry will now report only new infections in provinces with serious outbreaks for the sake of containment and efficiency, he said.
The figures, however, will remain posted on the ddc.moph.go.th website as all countries are required to collect daily tallies and report them to the World Health Organization in a transparent manner.
Dr Thira Woratanarat, associate professor of the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University, pointed to the need for the government to continue publicising the infection rate as he said it should be considered of major interest to the public under Section 59 of the charter.
On the other hand, Dr Thirawat Hemachudha, the chief of Chulalongkorn University’s Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases, reiterated that the daily infection rate doesn’t reflect the true number, largely because of a lack of RT-PCR test kits.
“I think the ministry wants people to panic less and trust in its ability to manage the situation,” he said.