Coronavirus control focus on flu patients

Coronavirus control focus on flu patients

Symptoms similar to coronavirus infection

Vendors gather at Chatuchak market in Bangkok on Monday for the balloting of stalls for rent at the popular market. Many were wearing masks they hoped would protect them from infection. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)
Vendors gather at Chatuchak market in Bangkok on Monday for the balloting of stalls for rent at the popular market. Many were wearing masks they hoped would protect them from infection. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

Health officials are surveilling influenza patients to better contain the novel coronavirus as both diseases produce similar symptoms, a senior ministry official said on Monday.

Dr Narong Aphikulvanich, deputy director-general of the Department of Medical Services, said that public and private hospitals in provinces popular with Chinese tourists would set up special clinics to examine  people being treated for influenza in particular.

This would help with the early detection of novel coronavirus infections, as the two viruses produce similar symptoms, such as coughing, sneezing and fever, Dr Narong said.

The Public Health Ministry estimated that 200,000 people were infected with influenza each day, but only a small number sought treatment at hospitals.

Dr Tawee Chotpitayasunondh, the ministry's senior medical consultant, said the special clinics would focus on Chinese and other patients involved in tourism activities or who come in contact with Chinese tourists.

These clinics were planned for Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, Krabi and Phuket provinces, he said.

On Monday, the number of confirmed local coronavirus cases remained at 32, 10 of whom have been  discharged from hospitals. Two of the nine Thai patients were in critical condition. Another 689 ill people were being monitored for possible coronavirus infection.

Dr Tawee said there were positive signs of possible disease control, including the higher number of recovering patients and the stabilising of the number of infected patients in China. This indicated the disease was controllable at a certain extent, he said.

The Public Health Ministry rejected as untrue a report the virus could travel a long distance through the air, like TB bacteria. The coronavirus could travel only a few metres in droplets from coughers and sneezers. 

On Monday afternoon, the global coronavirus death toll stood at 910 with confirmed cases exceeding 40,500, and more than 3,400 patients recovered, agencies reported.


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