As COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic, Dr. Suwit Mesinsee, Minister of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESI), made an announcement on 13 March 2020 that his ministry, in collaboration with public and private sectors, has prepared action plans to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak in the following aspects:
- System for tracking and monitoring health of travelers entering Thailand. A mobile application called DDC-Care has been developed by NSTDA and partners such as the Department of Disease Control, the Immigration Bureau, the Digital Government Development Agency, Thammasat University, the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA) and Thailand Tech Startup Association (TTSA). The system will be used by the Department of Disease Control and Immigration Bureau to monitor and assess people at risk of contracting COVID-19 entering Thailand. The system is set to be implemented at 46 immigration checkpoints from 16 March 2020 onwards.
- Systems for managing health products and services. MHESI will be working with startups and industry in developing and implementing systems for effective management of health products and services, with the focus on 1) telehealth service to enable individuals to perform self-screening and self-diagnosis of COVID-19, as well as obtain suggestions from health professionals via chatbot, to prevent the spread of disease and overcrowded hospitals; 2) system for logistics management of medical supplies such as masks and medicine; and 3) managing system for raw materials and manufacturing of essential medical supplies and devices.
- Systems to enable business operation under the health crisis. Supply Chain Management Platform, developed by NSTDA and the National Innovation Agency (NIA), will be employed to manage supply chains including logistics and shipping of medical supplies and consumer products experiencing demand surge during the crisis. Systems to enable tele-education and work-from-home will also be implemented.
- Establishment of Research and Knowledge Emergency Operation Center (RKEOC). The National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) is taking the lead in operating RKEOC in coordination with concerned agencies to serve as a center for communicating accurate knowledge and information on COVID-19 to the public.
In addition, MHESI has assigned NRCT to serve as a Coordinated Research Unit to facilitate R&D on COVID-19. A 250-million-THB fund has been set up for supporting COVID-19 research. Ten projects have been funded by the program, ranging from investigating the virus mutation, to designing a mathematical model for explaining and predicting the disease epidemiology and developing disease diagnostic tests.