Public Health Minister Witthaya Kaewparadai, Disease Control Department Director-General Somchai Chakrabhand, representatives from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and experts from MOPH-US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) convened on Monday to monitor and lay out measures controlling and preventing the outbreak of the swine flu strain of A/H1N1.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said that the relevant authorities are evaluating the situation and will propose preventive approaches to the Cabinet on Tuesday.
Initially, the health ministry has ordered quarantine station at every international airport, including Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, to install thermo scanners–a device to test the temperatures of passengers arriving from Mexico and southern US, according to Mr. Witthaya.
He said health card detailing the outbreak of swine flu will be distributed to both departing and arriving passengers.
The measures are launched after WHO declared the strain flu outbreak in Mexico and the US a public health emergency of international concern? on Sunday.
The swine flu killed at least 103 Mexicans, while sickening more than 1,600 since April 13. During the past two weeks the virus has also been detected in California and Texas, and 10 New Zealand students were reported to have the swine flu after returning from Mexico.
Following the news of the outbreak, the Thai health ministry advised Thais to avoid travel to Mexico and the southern US. An emergency centre have been set up to monitor the outbreak and give information regarding the swine flu to the Thai citizen.
The Livestock Department also informed the animal immigration across the nation, especially those at Suvarnabhumi Airport and ports to delay imports of swine from Mexico and the US.
The Thai public health minister added that Thailand is closely monitoring the situation.
WHO emergency committee will meet on Monday to consider whether to raise the pandemic alert phase which will be followed by the issuance of specific recommendations to countries on how to halt the disease.
Meanwhile, veterinarian Rungroj Thanawongnuvej, an expert on swine flu virus from Chulalongkorn University, asserted that the virus has not been detected in Thailand.
Dr. Rungroj said that the virus is originated from pigs but is being spread through human-to-human transmission.
The difference between bird flu and swine flu, Dr. Rungroj said, is that swine flu is less deadly, with a lower proportion of fatalities.
Bird flu virus affects all systems of human body, but for that of swine, it only affects the respiratory system. However patients can die if the respiratory system malfunctions.
A person with swine flu virus will demonstrate flu-like symptoms including fever, runny nose, coughing, sore throat, vomiting and diarrhea, said Dr. Rungroj, who noted most Mexican victims who had the swine flu virus might have had low body immunity.
He said the American patients instead recovered from the illness due to the better hygiene and immediate treatment.
Dr. Rungroj however insisted that cooked pork will not transmit the virus to consumer. (TNA)