Anutin calls for calm over viral outbreak

Anutin calls for calm over viral outbreak

Suvarnabhumi Airport is adopting stricter health measures to monitor travellers arriving from China where a mysterious viral pneumonia has broken out. (Photo by   Pornprom Satrabhaya)
Suvarnabhumi Airport is adopting stricter health measures to monitor travellers arriving from China where a mysterious viral pneumonia has broken out. (Photo by   Pornprom Satrabhaya)

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has urged people not to panic over the outbreak of a mysterious viral pneumonia in China, and gave assurances that measures are in place to keep Thailand free of the disease.

Airport authorities have been ordered to adopt stricter screening of travellers from Wuhan, the most populous city in central China where the lung infections have been found, amid reports of a similar case in Singapore.

"We have things under control. There's no problem here," Mr Anutin said on Sunday, adding health officials have experience in dealing with past communicable diseases including bird flu, Middle East respiratory syndrome and severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars).

The outbreak in Wuhan, with 44 cases confirmed, has led to speculation of a link to Sars which also originated in China and killed more than 700 people around the world in 2002 and 2003.

The Department of Disease Control is working with Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) to closely monitor tourists from Wuhan, said Mr Anutin.

AoT President Nitinai Sirismatthakarn said infrared temperature screening devices have been installed at the four AoT airports -- Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Phuket and Chiang Mai -- which currently serve daily flights from Wuhan.

Singapore also implemented temperature screening at Changi Airport from Jan 3 for all travellers arriving from Wuhan.

Its officials recently reported the first suspected case of pneumonia possibly linked to Wuhan, according to Bloomberg news agency.

The patient, a three-year-old girl with a travel history to Wuhan, is in a stable condition and has been hospitalised for further assessment and treatment, the Ministry of Health said on Saturday.

Preliminary tests showed Respiratory Syncytial Virus, a common cause of childhood pneumonia.

The World Health Organisation is monitoring the situation in Wuhan and is in active communication with its counterparts in China, where an investigation is under way to determine the cause of the outbreak.

Some of the infected reportedly worked at Huanan fresh seafood and produce market in the city. The girl in the suspected case in Singapore had not visited the market associated with the initial outbreak, according to the Singapore Health Ministry.


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