On Friday, there were only 25 intensive care unit (ICU) beds for COVID-19 patients left in Bangkok, while an infected woman died after seven days of waiting for one.
Nithiphat Chiarakun, head of the respiratory disease and tuberculosis division at the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, posted on Facebook that there were 200 ICU beds in the capital during the first wave of COVID-19 infections. The amount was later increased to 300 when the second wave struck, he said.
During the current wave, the number of beds has been increased to 500, he said. Of them, 475 have been occupied with 25 beds remaining, he said.
Of the 475 beds, 300 were occupied by patients on ventilators and 175 were occupied by patients using high-flow nasal oxygen or other life support equipment, Dr Chiarakun said.
“How long will we let this situation go on like this?” he said.
Sutin Boonkwan, 42, husband of Boonthawee Worachit, a 38-year-old woman who died while waiting at their home for a hospital bed, recounted the ordeal the couple endured.
Mr Boonkwan, who has also tested positive for the virus, said his wife, a Lao national, sold clothes in the Pratunam area of Bangkok, where she may have contracted the disease. Her first symptom was a cough, he said, adding she then sought testing at a hospital.
On 18th June, the hospital informed the couple that she tested positive and told her to wait for an ambulance to take her to the hospital, he said. The couple lived in the Ban Krua Nuea community on Banthat Thong Road in Bangkok.
Mr Boonkwan said he sought testing the following day and the result showed that he was positive for COVID-19.
After that, he said he tried to contact hospital staff to ask when his wife would be taken to hospital, but they only gave him advice on how to take care of her.
On Tuesday, Boonthawee’s condition worsened so he decided to contact several other hospitals but help did not arrive, he said.
On Thursday, she complained about chest pain and fell unconscious, he said. Mr Boonkwan said he tried contacting doctors but they told him to perform CPR and wait for an ambulance. The ambulance arrived at about 12.30pm but medical staff pronounced her dead after checking her vital signs, he said.
Apisamai Srirangson, assistant spokeswoman for the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration, said the Bang Khun Thian Geriatric Hospital has pledged to provide 70 additional beds for so-called “yellow” patients with less severe symptoms and 16 more beds for “red” patients with severe symptoms.
Ratchaphiphat Hospital will also provide 140 additional beds while Thon Buri Hospital will arrange 255 more, Dr Srirangson said.