Airports put on alert for Ebola cases

Airports put on alert for Ebola cases

Ministry reacts to outbreak in Africa

Airport staff take part in a drill to practise screening arrivals at Suvarnabhumi airport last year. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Airport staff take part in a drill to practise screening arrivals at Suvarnabhumi airport last year. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

The Public Health Ministry is beefing up health checks on incoming travellers from Africa in a bid to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus in the country.

The move came despite the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) has yet to classify the current Ebola outbreak in Africa as a public health emergency of international concern.

Deputy government spokeswoman, Traisuree Taisaranakul, said the government is aware of the outbreak of the Sudan-strain of the Ebola virus, which was first detected in Uganda last month.

As such, Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul had instructed all concerned agencies to ramp up their surveillance of incoming passengers, especially those arriving on flights from Africa, she said.

All travellers arriving from Africa, especially those whose journey began in Uganda, will have to fill in a declaration form at the International Communicable Disease Control checkpoint upon arriving at Thailand's international airports before they can proceed to the immigration counters.

Despite the low numbers of confirmed cases, he called on those agencies not to let their guard down and apply the stringent standards that had been applied to screen travellers for Covid-19 in order to stop the disease from entering the country, the deputy government spokeswoman added.

The public health minister is confident that Thailand will be able to stop the virus from affecting the tourism sector, she said.

Meanwhile, Dr Tares Krassanairawiwong, acting director-general of the Department of Disease Control (DDC), said Uganda has ramped up its Ebola control measures since Kampala first detected the virus early last month.

As of Monday, there were 90 confirmed cases, including 11 public health officials in Uganda. So far, 44 people, or about 49% of the cases, have died.

The Sudan strain is known to have a fatality rate of about 53%, making it slightly less lethal than the Zaire strain, which has a 68% fatality rate, he said.

"The WHO hasn't declared the outbreak as a PHEIC [public health emergency of international concern] yet, but there will be an assessment of the situation soon," he said.

As Ebola is listed as a dangerous communicable disease under the 2015 Communicable Diseases Act, the Department of Disease Control will ramp up safety checks at international checkpoints soon, he added.


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