Although infection rates are dropping rapidly, the COVID pandemic is still having a catastrophic effect on Thailand’s economy, with the country’s poorer citizens bearing the brunt of it. Yesterday morning I hooked up with a charity called Bangkok Community Help who were doing free mass COVID antigen testing for residents of the Lock 456 community in Khlongtoey.
More than 3000 people will be tested over three days, with all testees receiving a free one kilo bag of rice and any positive cases – of which there were a handful yesterday – sent straight to hospital. Testing was performed by volunteers who spent a very hot and sweaty day wrapped up in their protective suits!
Here’s my essay on this fantastic initiative.
Volunteers getting suited up before beginning their shift. With Khlongtoey badly affected by COVID, it was safety first and so everyone had to be fully clad in PPE. For some, getting the suits on was a bit of a challenge!
Testing equipment set up and ready for use. After being swabbed, the tests take around 15 minutes to return a result.
People began arriving for tests at 8am, with testing beginning at 8.30. The man in the orange trousers was very proud to be first in the queue. Others were forced to wait outside…
An hour into the day and the centre is already a blur of activity with volunteers coping admirably with their new roles and the demands of wearing unfamiliar PPE gear.
Whilst most of the kids coped very well with the discomfort of the nasal swabs, this little fella wasn’t so keen and it took three people to hold him down while the test was administered!
…and for many of the adults, particularly the elderly, it wasn’t a lot of fun either.
With no aircon in the facility, and the protective suits almost impermeable to fans, it was a hot, sweaty and tiring day for the volunteers.
Finally, after a disinfectant spray, visitors had a nervous 15 minute wait for their results before either heading home with a bag of rice, or, in a few cases, being taken to hospital for treatment.