Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O’Cha has ordered the Ministry of Commerce to control the price of rapid Covid19 Antigen Test Kits (ATK) due to higher demand during the rapid spread of the Omicron Covid19 variant in the country.
Government spokesperson Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana told the Associated Press that the Prime Minister had been closely monitoring the Omicron situation in Thailand. He urged all agencies, especially in the public health departments, to assess and prepare to support the continuously increasing number of infected people.
A proactive approach must be seriously conducted on at least 1,000 people per day in at risk communities, starting from January 11th to the 21st. Those who proved positive with mild or asymptomatic conditions must go through Home Isolation or Community Isolation.
The Ministry of Commerce has also been assigned to closely monitor and control the selling price of ATK test kits. If one was found to excessively increase the price, legal actions should be taken in order to prevent exploitation during difficult times.
TPN media notes that in Pattaya several business owners have openly complained to the media about the prices of rapid antigen test kits, claiming they have increased to as high as 200-300 baht in the past week.
This comes as the tests have been made a requirement in Chonburi for restaurants selling alcohol to utilize on employees daily and customers who use the venue services. The high price increase has made it impossible for many business owners to follow the new guidelines or to raise prices of testing for customers, which has unsurprisingly driven complaints over the already controversial policy.
The spokesperson told the press: “I’d like to reiterate that the Prime Minister did not neglect the situation of the Omicron variant in Thailand. Government assessment and the study of foreign infection cases are being done at all times in order to plan how to deal with our situation.”
“The government had also prepared the public health services to cope with the rising number of infections, including the call center system, health screening, patient screening for proper health treatment, and the preparation of Home Isolation and Community Isolation as well as the main hospitals, field hospitals, and Hospitels (quarantine hotels).”
Meanwhile, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul had ordered the local distribution of an additional one million ATK kits to support the high demand and to potentially reduce its price from 200-300 baht to about 20-40 baht.
“There are still about 1 million sets of ATK test kits left from the purchase of the National Health Security Office (NHSO) and they will be gradually distributed to various provinces for the public to purchase and conduct the self-test at home. We hope that the distribution could solve the overpricing of the ATK test kits in the market which is now at about 200-300 baht per set to only 20-40 baht, which is an affordable price for the public,” the Minister stated.
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