Taxi drivers have called on the government to prioritise giving COVID-19 vaccinations to them and other public transport drivers to help build confidence among passengers.
Witoon Naewpanich, president of the Thai Taxi Network Trade Association which has more than 30,000 members, submitted a letter at Government House yesterday calling for vaccines to be quickly made available to all public transport workers.
These people would include taxi, bus, van and motorcycle taxi drivers as well as people who work closely with them and should be among the first groups of people to receive COVID-19 vaccines, he said
That is because drivers were at risk of contracting the virus from passengers and could easily spread it.
Before COVID-19, there were around 100,000 taxi drivers in the country. Now there are around 40,000, according to Mr Naewpanich.
The government has already secured 2.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines – enough to inoculate 1.05 million people. About 840,000 people have been inoculated, half of which are essential health personnel.
The prime minister said in a TV pool broadcast last week that the government had set goals to acquire 100 million doses of vaccines to inoculate 50 million people this year.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health has urged its public health centres to prepare recovery wards for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms to help relieve the burden on hospitals.
One such ward has been piloted at Public Health Centre 6 Chon Buri where there are 28 beds. Of this number, 25 have been occupied by COVID-19 patients transferred from Chon Buri Hospital.
The department has instructed all public health centres nationwide to set up such wards, particularly in areas where there are a lot of cases.
The armed forces have all established field hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients displaying no serious symptoms.
Nine hospitals with 1,013 beds in total were set up by the army and 376 beds have been occupied.
The navy has three field hospitals with 726 beds in total and 156 have been occupied.
The air force has two hospitals and 131 of 240 beds are still available.