DDC ramps up anti-monkeypox measures

DDC ramps up anti-monkeypox measures

Visitors asked to give health declaration

Inbound travelers are going through immigration at Suvarnabhumi airport this month. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Inbound travelers are going through immigration at Suvarnabhumi airport this month. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The Department of Disease Control (DDC) has introduced strict rules for screening visitors travelling from countries where monkeypox has been found.

Travellers will have to fill in health declaration cards to be presented on arrival. The cards will also have a QR code that needs to be scanned so that incoming tourists can be provided information about symptoms and report them after arriving. They can then be advised on where to get medical help.

The DDC had set up an emergency operations centre (EOC) to monitor the spread of the virus and demanded immigration officials watch out for visitors from Central and West Africa, the United Kingdom, Spain and Portugal, where the virus has been detected.

Any visitors who appear to have potential symptoms will be hospitalised for tests.

Dr Chakkarat Pitayawonganon, director of the department's epidemiology division, said on Monday that the EOC will help screen incoming tourists who might be at risk of having contracted the virus after travelling to countries with outbreaks.

It can be transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, bodily fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials.

Thailand had to establish the EOC to closely monitor the outbreak overseas even though there have been no recorded cases in the kingdom so far.

The EOC aims to keep an eye on cases abroad and update the latest data on how to prevent the virus, he said.

Dr Chakkarat said that during the incubation period, infected people might not show visible symptoms such as rashes and raised spots that turn into blisters and then scabs.

They might pass screening at immigration and enter the country. However, officials will look closely at passengers from countries that have outbreaks.

He also added that passengers must fill in health declaration cards before arriving for inspection. The cards will ask questions about having possible symptoms.

The first symptoms include having a high temperature, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen glands, chills and exhaustion. The Department of Medical Sciences is responsible for collecting samples from tourists who might display such symptoms.

Dr Chakkarat explained that monkeypox virus has been around in Africa for many years but travellers recently carried the virus into Europe and infections will likely spread from there.

He said monkeypox causes symptoms that are similar to those of smallpox although they are often less severe.

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