Mers in Thailand: Cautious optimism as no new cases reported (Updated Sunday)

Mers in Thailand: Cautious optimism as no new cases reported (Updated Sunday)

The Mers news this Sunday morning seems generally good, good enough for the Bangkok Post to headline it's story "Mers spread seems to be contained".

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Public Health Minister Rajata Rajatanavin confirms that a 75-year-old man who entered the country on June 15 from the Middle East has been diagnosed with MERS. PATTARAPONG CHAPATTARASILL

Sunday morning

Cautious optimism as no new cases reported

The Mers news this morning seems generally good, good enough for the Bangkok Post to headline it's story "Mers spread seems to be contained".

It is important to remember that while Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is a deadly disease and one which requires extreme vigilance on the part of health officials, the number of people infected world-wide is not huge. In its latest report, the World Health Organisation says it has been notified of 1,334 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection since September 2012, included at least 471 deaths.

Here are excerpts from this morning's Bangkok Post story plus excerpts from online stories.

The number of people wearing face masks in public places has risen noticeably since Thailand's first case, an Omani man, was diagnosed with the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers). THANARAK KHUNTON

Mers spread seems to be contained


All 175 people who were potentially exposed to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome are unlikely to have contracted the infection, Public Health Minister Rajata Rajatanavin said yesterday.

His assurance was based on the results of tests for the Mers virus conducted on three relatives of the 75-year-old man from Oman who was confirmed as the first Mers case in Thailand.

The relatives were closest to the man as they travelled from Oman to Bangkok but so far tests have not shown positive and their general condition was fine, the minister said. They were the most likely to contract the virus, so chances were good that the other 175 people at risk will be free of the virus.

Dr Rajata yesterday visited Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute where the Omani Mers patient was being treated.

The patient’s condition had improved, he said. He had regained consciousness, was less dependent on the respirator, showed better lung X-ray results, and his appetite had increased.

Nakhon Ratchasima public health office chief Wichai Kattiyawittayakul said he had isolated three members of a Thai family who were on the flight to monitor their condition.

Dr Wichai said the three are a father, a mother and their 6-year-old son. The parents took the boy for treatment at Pak Chong Nana Hospital after he developed flu-like symptoms. Initial diagnosis showed he had a normal flu, but health authorities followed strict preventive guidelines by isolating them and their blood samples will be sent for testing today.

Meanwhile, the woman from Buriram who sat near the Omani man on the plane has been located and quarantined. Surachai Piragsa reports

The Buriram woman who sat near the Mers victim on a flight from Oman has been quarantined at the Chalerm Prakiat Hospital in the northeastern province. She shows no signs of the the disease. SURACHAI PIRAGSA

Authorities have located a Buri Ram resident who sat near the Omani man confirmed as having Thailand's first case of Mers on a flight to Bangkok.

Health workers on Saturday examined Chaluay Amatsena, 38, at her home in Chalerm Phrakiat district of the northeastern province. Initial tests showed she had no symptoms of the virus that has killed 24 people in South Korea.

As of late Saturday, the number of people in Thailand potentially exposed to Mers had reached 175.

Relatives of the woman said a team of health officials went to her house on Saturday morning before taking her to Chalerm Prakiat Hospital, where she would be held for 14 days as a precautionary measure.

Finally, Reuters reports even better news from South Korea:

South Korea's health ministry said that no new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) had been recorded, for the first time in 16 days, and there were no more deaths.

Latest: The news is not quite as good as first reported. This morning three new cases were reported in South Korea, but no deaths. As usual, two of the latest victims are medical workers who had treated Mers patitents.

Saturday afternoon

Rumours of a Mers case in Chiang Mai are false

Social media rumours that a man in Chiang May who had just returned from South Korea had tested postitive for Mers have been proven false.  The man has a bad cold, said Surasing Vissarutrat, deputy chief of the Chiang Mai Provincial Health Office.  If you think about it, it would be very difficult to get Mers in South Korea even if you wanted too with all the safety precautions health officials are taking.

Saturday morning update

As of Saturday morning there was still no indication that the Mers virus had spread beyond the 75-year-old victim and possibly two family members who have been isolated. Attempts continue to find and monitor those who may have come in contact with the man.

Here's more information on how Bamrungrad Hospital, the private hospital where the 75-years-old Mers patient was first admitted, screens its patients and how the elderly man was quickly isolated and tested for the disease. As a precaution, 58 hospital staff have taken temporary leave and being closely monitored for signs of Mers.

Bumrungrad Hospital officials say their staff has been on alert for the Mers virus since 2012 and the patient admitted their last Monday was quickly isolated. PATIPAT JANTHONG

From Bangkok Post reporters Paritta Wangkiat, Ariane Kupferman-Sutthavong & Patsara Jikkham

The hospital has rolled out its toughest safety measures to prevent Mers from spreading to other patients, Dr Korpong Rookkapan, chief operations officer at Bumrungrad Hospital said. Bumrungrad Hospital has never before accepted any patients from overseas who posed a risk, he said, adding that the hospital has been on alert for the Mers virus since 2012.

Walk-in patients will be submitted to a triaging procedure, he said.

Dr Mondej Sookpranee, of the hospital's Infectious Diseases Department, said a team of doctors is on hand to question patients and observe their symptoms from the moment they step into the hospital.

"Their role is to find out whether these patients fit the criteria which would place them in risk groups," Dr Mondej explained.

If this is the case, they will be further examined in an isolation room that has a separate air filtration system from the remaining hospital buildings.

"The medical team overseeing those risk groups won't be looking after other patients either," he said.

Regarding the 75-year-old man from Oman, Dr Korpong said he walked into the hospital on Monday evening. The emergency room was empty at that time and the man and his family were quickly isolated after going through triaging.

He showed signs of fatigue and shortness of breath. An X-ray was performed but doctors could not diagnose whether the man had pneumonia or had suffered a heart attack, or both.

He only developed a fever over the next few days, Dr Korpong said.

Bumrungrad vice-president Dr Channit Thanphiphat. said the Public Health Ministry was immediately alerted last Monday about doctors' suspicions that the man had contracted Mers. The patient underwent four tests between Tuesday and Thursday, with the first positive result delivered on Wednesday.

Friday evening update

Thailand's first Mers patient, an Omani national, is still in a stable condition, officials at Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute in Nonthaburi's Muang district said this morning. They have been able to reduce the amount of oxygen assistance he needs and his heart is still functioning well. Earlier in the day, officials said his family members had showed no sign of the disease, but now the Health Minister says that has changed. Two relatives are being tested and the final results won't be known for two days.

Meanwhile, one of the big problems with Mers is that it takes time to diagnose – in this case, several days – so that people who might have been exposed have scattered to many places around the country and even abroad. It is not that easy to find them. Here is an update on the current situation from our online reporters.

Tonight, the media is finally openly naming Bumrungrad Hospital as the private hospital where the Mers patient was admitted. Hospital officials say they are confident the hospital is Mers-free, but 58 staff members have been given temporary leave and are being closely monitored.

Hunt for Buri Ram man who sat near Mers patient

68 deemed at high-risk of Mers infection

Health officials are looking for a man from Buri Ram who sat near the Omani man now confirmed as having Thailand's first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) on a flight to Bangkok.

The 75-year-old Omani has tested positive for the deadly virus.

Public Health Minister Rajata Rajatanavin said there were a total of 106 passengers and crew on the same flight as the Omani man. Their risk of infection ranged from high to low.

The ministry is focussing on passengers who sat in the same row, and the two rows in front and behind the infected man.

One of them is a native of Buri Ram. Health officials know his name, but have not been able to contact him.

The health ministry initially announced 59 people were in quarantine, but today it revised the number of people who had been in contact with the infected man to 161. Of these 68 were classed as being at high risk, including the three relatives of the Omani who accompanied him to Thailand.

Of the 68 in the high-risk group, 21 were passengers in the two rows in front and behind the infected man – his three relatives, a Buri Ram man, two foreigners who had left Thailand, and 15 foreigners still in Thailand.

The other 47 were health personnel at a Bangkok private hospital where the infected man went for treatment about his heart problem.

There are 93 people deemed at medium to low risk – another 85 passengers on the same flight, of which 18 of them, including 12 cabin crew, have left Thailand. Two taxi drivers, one already accounted for, and six hotel staff.

Dr Rajata said currently the infected man's son had a low fever and his younger brother had a cough. Samples of sinus tissue and throat fluid had been taken from both of them and had been sent for laboratory testing. (Latest: Health officials say it will take two more days before conclusive lab results will be known.)

The two men were now in quarantine and being closely monitored. It was unlikely the virus would spread out of the ministry's Bamrasnaradura Infectious Disease Institution in Nonthaburi's Muang district.

The infected man was being kept in isolation. His condition was stable but he could not breathe unassisted.

Dr Rajata said the ministry was also still looking for a taxi driver, though he might be a low risk case as the length of his exposure to the Omani man was short  – a ride from the hotel to a private hospital.

Friday morning story

First MERS case confirmed in Thailand

Below is a more detailed story than the one I posted late last night. A big concern now, of course, is to keep the disease from spreading, so we will be following the story closely.

From the recent experience in South Korea, quickly finding, monitoring and possibly quarantining all those who came in contact with the Mers victim will be crucial. Fortunately, Mers is not spread through the air, so if the quarantine is effective, it should not spread into the surrounding community.

Nation's first Mers case strikes

Omani man, 75, quarantined after testing positive

Post Reporters

The Public Health Ministry has confirmed the first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) virus infection in the country as medical authorities gave assurances they will do all they can to prevent the spread of the virus.

Public Health Minister Rajata Rajatanavin said Thursday a 75-year-old man from Oman has tested positive for the deadly virus.

The man, whose identity has not been revealed, was admitted to a private hospital on Monday for heart disease treatment.

This prompted hospital staff to take stringent measures to prevent any possible spread of the Mers virus. Samples of phlegm taken from the patient were tested several times before it was confirmed that the patient had contracted the virus.

The patient was transferred to the Public Health Ministry's Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute in Nonthaburi's Muang district Thursday morning.

The man has now been quarantined at the institute. His condition remains stable, Dr Rajata said.

Upon the man's arrival at Suvarnabhumi airport, he had no fever, but he began coughing and had difficulty breathing when he was admitted to the private hospital, the minister said.

Dr Rajata said authorities are now monitoring 59 people suspected of coming into contact with the patient during and after his journey to Thailand on the aeroplane.

They include three of his family members who travelled with him, passengers who sat near him on the plane, cabin crew, medical staff at the private hospital and two taxi drivers.

The family members have been invited to stay at the institute, Dr Rajata said, adding that authorities will contact others to seek updates on their health condition.

Dr Rajata urged the public to remain calm because the patient has now been quarantined and is under close observation.

Prasert Thongcharoen, a professor emeritus who is an adviser to the Disease Control Department, said the patient is an Omani national and made a living as a fisherman there. Camels are thought to be carriers of the virus but there are none in his home town of Jalan.

The man told doctors he had avoided contact with camels, although he said he drank camel's milk, said Dr Prasert, who chairs a committee of experts on virology and epidemiology at the department. The man arrived in Thailand on Monday on Oman Air flight WY0815. His family checked into a hotel in Sukhumvit Soi 3.

Dr Prasert gave assurances that every effort will be made to contain the spread of the disease.

"We are confident we can prevent the disease from spreading," he said.

Thanarak Phaliphat, director of the Epidemiology Bureau under the Disease Control Department, said authorities will regularly telephone those who came into contact with the patient and will ask them to stop work temporarily.

Next week, authorities will visit each of them again and continue to monitor their condition for another two weeks, Dr Thanarak said.

Apichai Mongkol, chief of the Medical Sciences Department, said the private hospital that admitted the patient sent liquid samples from the patient for several lab tests at four different universities, before it was confirmed the man was infected with Mers.

Learn from listening

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  • accounted for: all the things or people who should be there are now there -
  • admitted (verb): (of a hospital) accepted for medical treatment - รับ, ให้เข้า, การรับเข้า, อนุญาตให้เข้า
  • adviser (noun): a person who gives advice, especially somebody who knows a lot about a particular subject - ที่ปรึกษา
  • alert: prepared to deal with something dangerous - ตื่นตัว ระวัง
  • appetite: a desire for food - ความอยากอาหาร
  • assurance (noun): a statement that something is true, esp. when there is doubt about it; a promise; a guarantee - การรับประกัน, การรับรอง
  • authority (noun): a person or government agency who has the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
  • cabin crew: the people whose job is to take care of passengers on a plan - พนักงานภายในเครื่องบิน, ลูกเรือ
  • calm (adj.): peaceful and quiet; without anxiety - สงบ
  • camel (noun): an animal with a long neck and one or two humps on its back, used in desert countries for riding on or for carrying goods - อูฐ
  • cautious optimism: expecting something good to happen or a good result, but understanding the possibility that it won't -
  • concern: a worry - ความกังวล
  • conclusive: proving that something is true - แน่นอน, เป็นข้อสรุป
  • condition: the physical state of a person or animal, especially how healthy they are - อาการ, สุขภาพ
  • conduct: to carry out — - ดำเนิน
  • confident: certain; having trust in people, plans, or the future - มั่นใจ
  • consciousness: awareness - ความมีสติ, ความตระหนักรู้
  • contact (noun): a situation in which people or things touch each other or come very close to each other - การสัมผัส
  • contained: kept within limits; prevented from spreading - ถูกควบคุม, ถูกจำกัด
  • contract a disease (verb): to become sick with a disease -
  • cough: forcing air up through your throat with a sudden noise, especially when you have a cold - การไอ
  • crew: the people who work on a ship, aircraft, etc. - ลูกเรือ
  • criteria: a standard that is used for judging something or for making a decision about something - บรรทัดฐาน
  • crucial (adj): extremely important because it effects the result of something - สำคัญยิ่ง
  • currently: at this time; now - ในปัจจุบัน
  • deemed: considered - เห็นว่า ถือว่า
  • dependent: needing the support of something or someone in order to continue existing or operating - ต้องอาศัย
  • diagnose: to find out what physical or mental problem someone has by examining them - วินิจฉัย,ตรวจโรค
  • elderly: (of people) old - สูงวัย, อาวุโส, อายุมาก
  • emergency room: a room or section of a hospital where emergency cases are accepted -
  • emeritus (adj): used with a title to show that a person, usually a university teacher, keeps the title as an honour, although he or she has stopped working - ปลดเกษียณแล้วแต่ยังมีตำแหน่งเป็นเกียรติ
  • epidemiology (noun): the study of how diseases spread - ต้นกำเนิดและการพัฒนาของเชื้อโรค, ระบาดวิทยา, การศึกษาเกี่ยวกับสาเหตุและการแพร่ของเชื้อโรคในประชากร
  • excerpt: a part of a longer story, speech, song, text, etc. - บทคัดย่อ
  • exposed: not protected and in direct contact with something harmful - ได้รับสารผิด
  • extreme: very great in degree - ที่สุด
  • fatigue: extreme physical tiredness usually because of exertion or illness - ความเหนื่อยล้า
  • fever: an abnormally high body temperature - ไข้
  • filtration (noun): the process of filtering, passing through a special device, especially to remove something that is not wanted, a liquid or gas - การซึมทะลุ,การแทรกซึม
  • flu: a very common infectious disease that lasts a short time and makes you feel hot or cold, weak, and tired - ไข้หวัดใหญ่
  • fluid: a liquid; a substance that can flow - ของเหลว, ของไหล
  • function: to perform the action or the job of the thing or person mentioned - ทำหน้าที่
  • guidelines: official instructions or advice about how to do something - สิ่งที่ช่วยแนะแนวทางให้ปฏิบัติ
  • heart attack (noun): a sudden serious medical condition in which the heart stops working normally, sometimes causing death - อาการหัวใจวาย
  • identity (noun): who someone is; what something is - เอกลักษณ์, ลักษณะพิเศษ, ลักษณะเฉพาะ
  • indication: a sign that something happened, is true or exists - เครื่องบ่งชี้
  • infected: having a disease transmitted from someone else - ซึ่งติดเชื้อ
  • infectious: able to cause an infection - ติดต่อกันได้
  • initial: early; first - เบื้องต้น
  • initially: at first - ในเบื้องต้น
  • isolate: to set apart from; to disconnect from - แยกออกมา ตั้งอยู่เดี่ยวๆ
  • isolation: set apart from; disconnected from - แยกออกมา ตั้งอยู่เดี่ยวๆ
  • laboratory: a room or building used for scientific research, experiments, testing, etc - ห้องปฏิบัติการ, ห้องทดลอง
  • leave: a period of time when you are allowed to be away from work for a holiday/vacation or for a special reason - การลาหยุด, การลาพัก
  • locate: to find where something is - หาทำเล,หาที่ตั้ง
  • lung: one of the two organs in your chest that fill with air when you breathe - ปอด
  • measure: an action taken to solve a particular problem - มาตรการ
  • monitor: to regularly check something or watch something to find out what is happening - ตรวจ, ติดตาม, เฝ้าสังเกต
  • native: someone who was born in a particular place - ชาวพื้นเมือง
  • notify: to tell someone officially about something - แจ้ง
  • observe: to watch or study someone or something with care - สังเกตการณ์
  • on hand: at a place and available for something; present - ปรากฎอยู่
  • operations: the activity or work done in an area of business or industry - ปฎิบัติการ
  • oversee (verb): (past form: oversaw) to watch or organise a job or an activity to make certain that it is being done correctly - คุมงาน,ควบคุม
  • patient: someone who is receiving medical treatment - คนป่วย, คนไข้
  • personnel: the people who are employed in a company, organization or one of the armed forces - บุคลากร, เจ้าหน้าที่, พนักงาน
  • phlegm (pronounced 'flem') : a thick yellow or green substance that you get in your nose and throat, especially when you have a cold - เสมหะ
  • pneumonia (noun): a serious illness affecting one or both lungs that makes breathing difficult - โรคปอดบวม
  • pose: cause something, especially a problem or difficulty - เป็นเหตุให้
  • positive (adj): showing clear evidence that a particular substance or medical condition is present มีประจุบวก (การทดสอบ) - มีประจุบวก (การทดสอบ)
  • potentially: possibly - เป็นไปได้
  • precaution: an action taken to protect people or things against possible harm or trouble - การป้องกันไว้ก่อน
  • precautionary measure: an action taking to prevent something bad from happening - มาตราการป้องกันล่วงหน้า
  • prevent (verb): to stop somebody from doing something; to stop something from happening - ขัดขวาง, ป้องกัน, กัน, กีดขวาง
  • preventive (adj): intended to try to stop something that causes problems or difficulties from happening - ซึ่งป้องกัน, เกี่ยวกับการป้องกันโรค
  • private: involving groups, businesses or industries that are not owned or controlled by the government - เอกชน
  • procedure: a way of doing something - ขั้นตอนการดำเนินการ
  • professor: a university teacher of the highest rank - ศาสตราจารย์
  • prompt: to cause someone to take action - กระตุ้น
  • quarantine (noun): a situation in which a person or animal that might have a disease is kept separate from other people or animals so that they do not catch the disease - การกักบริเวณ, การจำกัดบริเวณ
  • regain consciousness: to become aware of your surroundings after having been asleep, especially from an injury - ได้สติ, ฟื้น
  • regarding: concerning somebody/something; about somebody/something - เกี่ยวกับ
  • relative: a member of your family - ญาติพี่น้อง
  • respirator: a piece of equipment used to help someone breathe - เครื่องช่วยหายใจ
  • respiratory: involving breathing - ระบบทางเดินหายใจ
  • reveal: to let something become known - เปิดเผย
  • risk: the possibility that something dangerous or unpleasant might happen - ความเสี่ยง
  • role: the position or purpose that someone or something has in a situation, organisation, society or relationship - บทบาท
  • sample: a small amount of a substance that is used for scientific or medical tests - ตัวอย่างทดลอง
  • scattered: spread over a large area or time period - กระจัดกระจาย
  • screen: to find out information about people to see if they are suitable for something, at risk of something, etc. - คัดเลือก, แยกออก, เลือกออก
  • shortness of breath: having difficulty breathing; having difficulty getting enough air into the lungs. -
  • social media: the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc. - เครือข่ายสังคมออนไลน์
  • spread: to gradually affect or cover a larger area - แพร่กระจาย
  • stable: not changing frequently and not likely to suddenly become worse - คงที่, มั่นคง
  • staff: workers employed by a person or organisation considered as a group - คณะผู้ทำงาน, คนงาน
  • strict: very careful and exact - เข้มงวด
  • stringent: (of a rule, law, etc.) very strict and that must be obeyed - เข้มงวด
  • submit (verb): to allow something to happen to you, especially something unpleasant; to agree to obey a rule, a law, or the decision of someone in authority - ยินยอมต่อ, ยอม,ยอมตาม
  • surrounding: all around a place - บริเวณรอบๆ
  • suspected: thought to be something - เป็นที่สงสัย
  • suspicion: a feeling that something bad is probably true or likely to happen - ความสงสัย
  • symptom: a sign that someone has an illness - อาการ
  • syndrome: a set of feelings or actions that are typical in a particular situation; a medical condition that has a particular set of effects on your body or mind - ลักษณะเชิงซ้อนต่างๆ ที่บ่งบอกถึงสภาพใดสภาพหนึ่ง, อาการของโรคต่างๆ ที่เกิดขึ้นพร้อมๆ กัน
  • temporarily: for a limited period of time - ชั่วคราว
  • thorough: detailed and careful - ละเอียดถี่ถ้วน
  • throat: the area at the back of your mouth and inside your neck - ช่องคอ
  • tissue: any of the distinct types of material of which animals or plants are made, consisting of specialized cells and their products - เนื้อเยื้อ
  • transfer (verb): to move from one place to another; change location - ย้าย; โยกย้าย
  • treatment: the process of providing medical care - การรักษา
  • triage (noun): (in a hospital) the process of deciding how seriously ill/sick or injured a person is, so that the most serious cases can be treated first - การคัดแยกผู้ป่วย
  • undergo (verb): to go through a procedure, such as a test, a training programme, a medical operation, etc. - ได้รับ, ประสบ, ผ่าน
  • unlikely: not expected to happen; probably won’t happen - ที่ไม่น่าจะเกิดขึ้น
  • update: the most recent information or news about something - ข้อมูลใหม่ๆ
  • urge: to advise someone very strongly about what action or attitude they should take - ผลักดัน, กระตุ้น
  • vigilance: being very careful to notice any signs of danger or trouble - การเฝ้าระแวด
  • virology (noun): the scientific study of viruses and the diseases caused by them - ไวรัสวิทยา, การศึกษาเกี่ยวกับไวรัสและโรคที่เกิดจากไวรัส
  • ward: a separate room or area in a hospital for people with the same type of medical condition - แผนกในโรงพยาบาลที่มีคนไข้ประเภทเดียวกัน

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