By The Nation
After the occurrence of mysterious pneumonia in Wuhan, central China, at least 59 patients were found to have contacted the virus from December last year. The Wuhan City Public Health Committee said the disease is not influenza, avian influenza, adenoids, SARS or MERS. Initial lab results showed the strain of pneumonia might have come from a seafood market in Wuhan.
Thailand's Health Ministry is concerned the fever can be transmitted from person to person, but Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul is confident that there are measures ready to deal with the problem.
After visiting the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute, Anutin said on January 6 that there are four suspected patients who returned from Wuhan city. The condition of the patients has improved and lab results found them to have influenza, not Chinese pneumonia. The patients are now recovering in the institution’s separation room and waiting for confirmation of the infection before being sent back home.
“All four patients who have a cold were not infected with the virus of the outbreak in Wuhan city,” Anutin said. “However, to confirm that there is no Chinese virus epidemic entering Thailand, we have prepared measures that will control the spread. So there is nothing to worry about. If you are travelling to Wuhan for business, you can go but be careful not to visit the risky areas. As for anyone who is travelling for tourism, I suggest you postpone your trip for your own peace of mind. And for those returning from the risky areas, if you have a fever on return please call hotline 1422 or get treatment at the Bamrasnaradura Institute,” the minister advised.
He asked private hospitals nationwide to report to the ministry if they found any suspected patients and to send them to the Bamrasnaradura Institute.
For tourists travelling from Wuhan, there are special procedures and they have to use separate airport gates. There are three direct flights to Suvarnabhumi Airport, two to Don Mueang International Airport and two to Chiang Mai Airport per day.
Four patients are under quarantine at Bamrasnaradura Institute. The first patient is a three-year-old Chinese boy. Lab tests did not find SARS or MERS but the boy was found to be infected with H3N2. His condition has improved. The second patient is a Thai female student aged 22 studying in Wuhan. The lab did not find SARS or MERS but she was infected with RNA. The third case was a 24-year-old female student with fever after she returned from Wuhan. She has recovered. The fourth patient is a 44-year-old Thai tourist who visited Wuhan and returned with a fever. Lab tests are being carried out to find the type of virus.
Suwanchai said the Department of Disease Control has elevated Emergency Operation Centre readiness to the second level. The number of patients is increasing – from about 27 on December 31 to 44 by January 3, 11 of whom are severely ill.
Thailand has measures to deal with the situation and is monitoring water, land, and air routes. Government and private hospitals are expected to coordinate and report suspected cases. The public are also asked to cooperate, including operators of hotels, residences and homestays, who should be alert. If they suspect any cases, the Department of Disease Control should be notified via hotline 1422 at any time.