COVID-19’s status in Thailand is due to be downgraded to a communicable disease under monitoring from October 1 onward. Although Covid will no longer be considered a hazardous disease, the health ministry says critical patients are still entitled to emergency care under the UCEP Plus policy.
The health ministry reported it is adjusting the criteria for persons seeking treatment for Covid via the Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients (UCEP) pathway.
UCEP was implemented in 2017 to enable critical patients to receive treatment at any public or private hospital. The state shoulders all treatment costs during the first 72 hours. During previous rounds of Covid outbreaks, the government granted the UCEP right to all infected persons regardless of their condition. With the situation having improved in March this year, only Covid patients with moderate to severe symptoms were eligible for UCEP. The treatment pathway was renamed UCEP Plus to signify the lack of a 72-hour treatment time limit. From October 1, only critical Covid patients or those who have received the ‘red’ color code will be able to make use of UCEP Plus.
Covid patients who do not fall under these criteria will still be able to receive treatment based on the health benefit program they have subscribed to. The National Institute for Emergency Medicine (NIEM) will release detailed criteria for UCEP Plus eligibility tomorrow (30 September).
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Health has announced it is closing the Public Health Emergency Operation Center (EOC) for COVID-19 at the ministerial level. The department-level EOC, set up at the Department of Disease Control, will carry on the task of monitoring COVID-19. However, a ministerial-level EOC could be reactivated in response to changes in the disease situation. (NNT)