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Pattaya Daily News

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15 June 2009 :: 15:06:20 pm 36648

Thailand Takes Proactive Approach as Swine Flu Infections Hits 201

As of 15 June, the influenza A virus (H1N1) outbreak in Thailand has reached 201, with disinfection in process at 435 schools and now at Bangkok's Chatuchak Market. Yesterday, June 14, extensive disinfection was conducted in the vicinity of Phuket's Patong Beach and all entertainment venues on the island were asked to close for five days. The first case has also been reported in Chiang Mai.
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Prat Boonyavongvirot, Permanent Secretary for Public Health, has stated that the number of new infections is expected to rise by the day and there will likely be a change from Level B to C, which indicates the disease has taken hold nationwide. Mr. Prat also expressed his concern that the thermal scanners at airports are ineffective in preventing the spread of the virus, due to at least 30,000 air passengers arriving daily in the country, some of whom have already been observed to be actively avoiding the scanners.

The Minister of Public Health, Witthaya Kaewparadai, has predicted that the spread of the new H1N1 influenza will peak in July before beginning to decline, so close surveillance is required and the public must co-operate to prevent it spreading. Two of the main ways to do so are to wear face-masks and avoid public places.

In the North, a Chiang Mai University student, returning home from US, tested positive for H1N1, the first confirmed infected individual in the Northern region. Also in Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai Christian School will close this week after some students were diagnosed as having flu.

Bangkok’s popular weekend Chatuchak Market will conduct disinfection procedures today, June 15 and tomorrow and health officials will also brief workers on sanitary procedures, checks being performed, especially on drinking water sold at the market, following some complaints from tourists. Again in Bangkok, 431 temples will be disinfected from July 4-6.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on June 14 that every effort must be made to stop the disease from spreading and that the government is taking a pro-active approach to containing the virus. The premier also sought to allay public fears about the virulence of the disease, saying that with proper treatment the virus has a low mortality rate. Indeed out of 29,669 cases worldwide, there have only been 146 confirmed deaths, making it less dangerous than normal seasonal flu. In the US, for example, seasonal influenza kills an estimated 36,000 annually. However, Australian medical expert, Professor Booy, stressed that although the spread of the virus around the world has also revealed it is not as deadly as initially feared, and that it behaved very similarly to “standard garden-variety influenza”, it should not be underestimated.

Although the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the outbreak to be a “pandemic” on June 11, it was at pains to point out that this was because of the global “spread of the virus,” not its severity. The countries of the Developed World should have no problem containing the virus, though the WHO is more concerned about countries in the Developing World, with limited resources, poor health care, few hospitals and a high prevalence of underlying medical problems. The WHO also said in a recent report, however, the new virus ‘appears to be more contagious than seasonal influenza’ and that nearly everyone in the world lacks immunity against the new disease. The report added that the new H1N1 flu virus has the potential to unpredictably mutate into a more virulent form, resulting in a pandemic that may circle the globe in at least two or even three waves.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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