New clinics to screen virus

New clinics to screen virus

Special flu wards set up in tourist hotspots

A sign saying masks and hand sanitisers are out of stock, with no dates set for new stock arrivals, is seen near Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok. Chanat Katanyu
A sign saying masks and hand sanitisers are out of stock, with no dates set for new stock arrivals, is seen near Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok. Chanat Katanyu

Special clinics for monitoring influenza patients will be opened to contain the novel coronavirus as both diseases produce similar symptoms, according to the Ministry of Public Health.

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.

"These special clinics will 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 estimates that 200,000 people are infected with influenza each day, but only a small number seek 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 have come in contact with Chinese tourists.

These clinics are 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 hospital. 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 in terms of the trajectory of the virus, including the higher number of recovering patients and the stabilisation of the number of infected patients in China. This indicated the disease was controllable to a certain extent, he said.

The Public Health Ministry rejected as untrue a report the virus could travel long distances through the air, like TB bacteria droplets. Coronavirus can travel only a few metres in droplets from coughs and sneezes, it said.

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

Dr Taweesin Visanuyothin, the ministry's spokesman, said that the ministry is going to supply 70,000 surgical masks to all state-owned hospitals every day to prevent supply shortages.

However, he stopped short of saying how long this ministerial initiative would last.

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