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Elderly Woman’s Death Sparks Outcry Over Bed Shortages

The death of an 85-year-old while waiting at home to be admitted to hospital for COVID-19 treatment has sparked a public outcry over bed shortages for virus patients.

The woman, who died on Thursday, was among 6 elderly members of a family living in a shophouse in Bang Kholaem district of Bangkok struck by COVID-19.

On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said he was sorry for the death.

Although insisting the Public Health Ministry is trying its best in working to coordinate COVID-19 hospital admissions with available beds, Mr Charnvirakul promised the ministry will work harder to find space for those in most need.

On Thursday, “Drama-addict”, a popular Facebook page run by a doctor, posted a plea by a relative of the family, who lives on Soi Charoen Rat 5, for help in finding hospital beds.

Three of the six had already been sent to the hospital in an ambulance, while the other three, including the 85-year-old patient who later died, had been left at home, according to the Facebook page.

The author later updated the post saying the 85-year-old had died and an ambulance was on its way to pick up the other two, who were 70 and 75 years old.

“I’m not exaggerating. But this is exactly what happened in Italy in the first wave of COVID-19 there. And as the healthcare system fails, not only those infected with COVID-19 will be dying but also other patients with critical health conditions,” wrote the Facebook page admin.

The body of the dead patient was transported for funeral arrangements immediately after the death on Thursday night, according to a source.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration was alerted to the first COVID-19 infection in the family, an 89-year-old, before the Songkran holiday, said the source. It is unclear what action was taken.

Netizens slammed authorities over the care given to the family and warned that unless action is taken, home deaths could follow the same sharp upward curve seen in other countries at similar stages of the outbreak.

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An elderly woman from Bang Kholaem district, right, begs for someone to help her gravely ill sister get hospital treatment. (Photo: Drama-addict Facebook page)

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