A city worker fumigates the area to control the spread of mosquitoes at a temple in Bangkok, Thailand, September 14, 2016.// REUTERS
THE CHIEF of the Department of Disease Control (DDC) has instructed all 12 Emergency Operations Centres (EOCs) around the country to scale up their response from Level 1 to Level 2 to contain the Zika virus outbreak.
Dr Amnuay Gajeena yesterday said he issued the instruction during Tuesday’s meeting of the 12 directors of the Office of Disease Prevention and Control (ODPC) and all bureau directors under the DDC.
He said the Public Health Minister had given a directive for all ministerial agencies to carry out surveillance, prevention and control of the Zika epidemic at the highest level.
This includes strengthening surveillance and laboratory investigations of the Zika epidemic and the behaviour of the mosquitoes that are known to carry the disease. The activation of EOCs to the Level 2 response was to ensure that those measures would be effective.
Amnuay said all 12 ODPC bureau directors would become incidence commanders in regional offices, while at least 10 per cent of ODPC staff would be recruited to operate in the EOCs.
All units and staff under the EOCs would work as specified in their incidence action plans.
“All DDC staff have to maximise control measures against the outbreak. All suspected Zika cases must be tested and control measures rapidly implemented to ensure that the virus transmission is limited to specific areas,” Amnuay said.
“Mosquito populations in the affected area must be controlled, and all pregnant women placed under medical surveillance.”
Zika is a particular danger to pregnant women because infection can cause defects in foetuses.
“EOC staff at the ODPC level must work closely with the Provincial Communicable Disease Committee, which is chaired by each provincial governor, who should be regularly notified on the latest situation and current control measures against mosquito-borne diseases in their area of jurisdiction,” Amnuay added.
During the current rainy season, larval breeding sites will increase, making Thailand vulnerable to Aedes mosquito-borne viral diseases such as dengue fever, Zika and chikungunya.
People are advised to keep their properties clean and eradicate potential mosquito breeding sites as well as to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
The Communicable Disease Act 2015 requires people to notify health authorities of suspected cases of Zika virus infections.