A dozen Bangkok hospitals suspend COVID-19 testing amid shortages

FILE PHOTO: A healthcare worker takes a nasal swab sample from a local resident for a COVID-19 test after hundreds of residents of Watthana district and the trendy Thonglor neighborhood tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Bangkok, Thailand

At least 12 hospitals in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, said as of Friday they were suspending testing for COVID-19 due to high demand and shortage of supplies, amid a new spike in cases.

The hospitals issued notices on their social media and on messaging apps this week, some saying the suspension would last only a few days and others giving no date for resumption of tests.

Bangkok is at the epicentre of a new outbreak in Thailand that has seen new cases go from only a few dozen per day to several hundred per day, prompting the government to scramble to boost testing and trace new cases.

The government has been hosting its own mass testing in districts of Bangkok where clusters have been reported, mostly involving bars or entertainment venues that have been ordered closed for two weeks.

Thailand reported 405 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, and nearly a third of cabinet ministers are self-isolating due to potential exposure to cases.

The spike in infections comes at a tricky time for Thailand, ahead of next week’s annual Songkran festival, known for big gatherings and notoriously crowded water fights that authorities have banned.

Thailand on Wednesday confirmed the presence locally of the highly transmissible coronavirus variant B.1.1.7 first identified in Britain.

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