The Ministry of Health (MOH) has ordered the closure of all private hospitals and clinics in the country.
URGENT UPDATE: The Ministry of Health has amended its policy (April 2, 2020) regarding this matter. See the updated article here.
A MOH notice dated 1 April mandated the immediate suspension of operations for all private hospitals, clinics, and treatment centers. The notice, signed by the Director-General of the Treatment and Rehabilitation Department Dr. Khampua Soudthisombat, is to take effect immediately.
Vice Minister of Health Dr. Phouthone Muongpak of the National Taskforce Committee for Prevention and Control of Covid-19, said in an interview, that private hospitals were generally not adequately equipped to test for the presence of the virus. State hospitals have received proper internationally-approved testing kits and are able to sufficiently detect the virus. Moreover, the closure is also meant to safeguard the lives of medical practitioners in the private sector who may not be fully aware of the dangers of Covid-19, the symptoms of which closely resemble other diseases.
A few international-grade hospitals will be allowed to open.
While the closure will inevitably shift non-COVID-19 related medical visits and treatments previously handled by the private healthcare sector to the state sector, the probability of incorrectly diagnosing or failure to diagnose a COVID-19 patient will be reduced, which would ultimately lead to the curtailing of the spread.
The closure will last until April 19, or until further notice.