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Chinese New Year sparks full alert for coronavirus

Chinese New Year sparks full alert for coronavirus

NATIONWIDE: The Ministry of Public Health has implemented the highest level of precautionary measures at airports and hospitals across the country to minimise the possibility of a disease outbreak in response to the surge in Chinese tourists expected to arrive to celebrate Chinese New Year.

By Bangkok Post

Saturday 18 January 2020, 11:21AM

Around 1,400 people from Wuhan arrive in Thailand every day. Illustration: Bangkok Post Graphics (Source: Department of Desease Control)

Around 1,400 people from Wuhan arrive in Thailand every day. Illustration: Bangkok Post Graphics (Source: Department of Desease Control)

Meanwhile, the country’s second case of a Chinese national infected with Novel Coronavirus 2019 was confirmed on Thursday night (Jan 16) while lab results for a Thai suspected of being infected are pending.

Speaking at a press conference, the ministry’s permanent secretary, Dr Sukhum Kanchanapimai said public health authority teams have been set up to monitor inbound tourists at Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Krabi airports, which have direct flights arriving from China. Moreover, both state-owned and private hospitals are on alert to deal with the disease as medical treatment guidelines have been provided by the ministry and a patient-transfer system also arranged. A channel to report the disease if found among suspected sufferers has also been set up and linked to the ministry.

The country confirmed that the first case of Novel Coronavirus 2019 was found on Jan 13 in a 74-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan. Presently, her condition appears normal and doctors are planning to discharge her from hospital within the next few days if laboratory tests show a reading of no disease-related viruses in her body.

Previously, doctors had confirmed that the woman, who on Monday had taken a direct flight from Wuhan -- the epicentre of the outbreak of a coronavirus from the same family as the Sars pathogen -- was experiencing a high fever and an infected respiratory system, all symptoms of the disease.

Public health officials at the disease control unit at Suvarnabhumi International Airport found that the woman had a temperature over 38C. During an initial investigation, officials found that her condition matched the precaution criteria at which point she was sent to the airport’s negative pressure room for monitoring. Doctors also checked 20 others who had been in contact with her but found no other cases.

"She is recovering now. If the virus is no longer in her body, she will be released from hospital. We are now on full alert to prevent a disease outbreak, especially during the coming Chinese New Year," Dr Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai, head of the Department of Disease Control said.

"All passengers from Wuhan are checked by public health officials as the department has placed the highest level of precautionary measures in the Emergency Operation Centre," Dr Suwannachai added.

He added that the ministry has sent advisories to tour operators in case any sick person is found so that proper measures are taken. In addition, cooperation with the Chinese embassy is also in full swing.


The department is also monitoring a 70-year-old man in Nakhon Pathom province who developed a fever after visiting Wuhan. He is now being treated at Nakhon Pathom Hospital.

"We are waiting for laboratory results," Dr Suwannachai said.

Since the first case, the ministry has already screened 13,624 passengers arriving on 86 flights. Around 1,400 people from Wuhan – a number that is expected to increase by at least 50% during the festival – arrive in Thailand every day as the country is a preferred destination for tourists to celebrate New Year.

Meanwhile, Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, insisted that the ministry could control the disease as it had learned from the SARS outbreak in 2002.

"The outbreak is still limited. Patients found in Thailand are all from Wuhan. We have not yet seen any patients with a history of visiting the source of the disease. We can’t say whether the outbreak is serious or not but we have tried our best to limit any damage to Thais and tourists," he said.

However, virus experts say that the disease is moderate which means the body can create immunity to kill the virus but there are fears that the virus can mutate and become more deadly in the future leading to a critical outbreak.

Read original story here.

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Kurt | 27 January 2020 - 10:14:33

@ Gerry. Yes, Thai permanent water crisis, to much or to little. The repeating Smog crisis ( incl PM2.5), a big national health problem, makes farming products are not growing as usual. The waste problems everywhere. Alarming lower education scores. What did change for the better the last 5 years? Indeed 'business as usual.

DeKaaskopp | 26 January 2020 - 21:59:56

@R2. Pascale gave us a counted concise summary of someones anxieties. What content did you add ? 

Rorri_2 | 26 January 2020 - 14:56:32

Pascale, more staggering is that you counted them.... get a life... add some content.

GerryT81 | 26 January 2020 - 10:57:57

First the water shortages and now the new virus. K's beautiful  ideal world is piece by piece breaking apart.Whereas other peoples life is business as usual.he gets nervous more and more by the minute.No wonder he can't sleep anymore.

Christy Sweet | 25 January 2020 - 19:54:54

I would strongly suggest Thai authorities start an earnest campaign to  stop people from sticking their fingers in noses, mouths  or eyes.  I cannot believe how often I see cashiers who handle money do this.  Generic, cheap "surgical" masks are about keeping your  own secretions to yourself, and thank  you for  it..

Christy Sweet | 25 January 2020 - 19:45:05

That criteria of thermal imaging for a pathogen with a long incubation period sure has me reassured along with the knowledge Thai authorities will  not hesitate to ban flights from China at the height of tourist season. JHFC! I'd better stock up on my  Christy's  Secret Cold Cure. 

Pascale | 25 January 2020 - 17:32:40

There are now a staggering 27 !! comments from the serial poster regarding the corona-virus.Calling him hysterical would be an understatement.

Kurt | 25 January 2020 - 15:36:24

DeK, there is not such thing as a safe place away from Coronavirus. It is spreading all over the world. Don't you get that?

DeKaaskopp | 25 January 2020 - 10:59:51

@K. Good to hear you are in a different time zone now and therefore in a save zone far away from the virus. Btw,given all the different times of your comments,even in your time zone there must be a night time.

Sir Burr | 24 January 2020 - 14:16:35

Yes, I just use the scroll bar to avoid all posts by K. Easy.

Kurt | 24 January 2020 - 10:12:07

@ematt, once again,  different time zone, mate. And the coronavirus situation develops so fast, numbers of death, infected, in many countries now are rising by the hour. Comment after comment becomes old news in no time. Is Thailand already a bit 'further' than just screening temp at airports, which is good but insufficient as long Government not informs about incubation time?

Timothy | 24 January 2020 - 08:38:06

The Chinese government stopped all outgoing flights from Wuhan. It should have been done sooner, but K was right about this. What about all his serial detractors??? Any comment? 

ematt | 23 January 2020 - 13:59:50

Did the resident public health expert really post 8 times to one article (including at 3:38 am)?  I'm picturing bloodshot eyes, hunched over the keyboard, compulsively posting again and again and again....

Kurt | 23 January 2020 - 03:38:19

Wuhan did announce  transportation lock down on  busses, ferries and subways. When Thailand locks down on the 9 daily flights from Wuhan?  Seems to me a high National health security matter to do so now. It can not be that the incoming money of 9 daily Wuhan plane loads is more important than the thai public health security..

Pascale | 22 January 2020 - 21:49:54

"Let's wait for WHO recommendations" I agree ,Kurt ! And now stick to your own proposal and stop giving advises how to handle flights from Wuhan or Chinese tourists. Try to relax.

DeKaaskopp | 21 January 2020 - 21:48:50

"This moment a british tourist..." A very "helpful" comment from K. again.Well done. Keep searching the world press for more cases.All reader here rely on you.

Pascale | 21 January 2020 - 11:49:27

@K. This man became ill already end of December. Quote from his father:"I urge people to be careful when travelling in Asia. They all wear masks and coughing everywhere". What a BS. The yellow press is going crazy about that story.Scaremongering ! But the serial poster believes everything.

Kurt | 21 January 2020 - 11:46:37

During flights from Wuhan to Thailand, passengers can be infected, and as incubation time is still unknown, pass by the airport scanners 'undetected' while being already infected. Two days later they walk in the shopping centres, still feel ok, but contaminate people. Let's wait for WHO recommendations.

Kurt | 21 January 2020 - 10:51:44

Wednesday the WHO, very alarmed,  holds a emergency coronavirus meeting in Geneve. The number of infected persons are tripling daily rapidly, and there is fear that the virus can mutate and becomes stronger. Is it not time/wise to stop flights from Wuhan to Thailand a couple of weeks? Aircrafts on the way to Thailand will be 'contaminating bodies' as virus now spread from human to human.

Jor12 | 21 January 2020 - 03:55:08

Why not write to the UN and WHO and  bring a case in the International Court to change the law disallowing anyone with communicable life threatening diseases such as AIDS, measles, rabies et al, from travelling anywhere. Just plain utter nonsense again.

Kurt | 20 January 2020 - 18:53:58

This moment a british tourist (32) became on Phi phi island victim of the corona virus and is with a special water plane in critical condition transferred to a mainland hospital and fight for his life. His family is already with him. The british man was never in Wuhan!!!

Kurt | 20 January 2020 - 14:31:37

Yesterday Chinese authorities admitted 60 infected persons. Today another 139 extra joined, according BP.  In real, of course, we have to multiply these 'official' figures. Asian Governments just focus on: keep people calm, keep them calm, no worry, no worry. European Virologists  estimated yesterday 1700 ++ infected.  Sure today is more than 2000. I believe the CNN and BBC information.

Kurt | 20 January 2020 - 10:52:02

...And incubation time is still unknown.

Kurt | 20 January 2020 - 10:50:45

The 'highest level of precautionary measures' would be to put the Wuhan province in Quarantine when it comes to international traveling. Welcoming the sick tourists here and bring them straight to a hospital doesn't make sense. International virologists now believe that the virus can spread from person to person. Aircrafts are excellent 'spreading' locations. And incubation tim...

Kurt | 20 January 2020 - 10:39:40

Would it be strange to forbid Wuhan citizens to travel abroad coming month, so China can contain/control this virus outbreak better? Also demand from Chinese tourist upon arrival in Thailand a international sickness & health insurance to pay their bills in thai hospitals when admitted.


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