InfoQuest (February 13, 2020) -- Dr. Thanarak Springphat, deputy director general of the Department of Disease Control, said the global outbreak situation showed increasing numbers of coronavirus cases in mainland China, as well as Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Singapore. The department is closely monitoring the outbreak in Hong Kong and Singapore. It will intensify efforts to screen and monitor passengers from the two regions if necessary. He also admitted that the spread of the coronavirus in the two regions is expected to be difficult to control, and Thailand may need to raise the screening level for travelers from the two regions within a day or two.
"The standard followed by the department is to monitor travelers from the country where the outbreak is originated and inbound tourists from countries where cases of infection are detected, followed over time by screening of these passengers. The department plans to step up monitoring for these two regions," said Dr. Thanarak.
Dr. Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchai, director general of the Department of Disease Control, released an update on the Covid-19. A Chinese male tourist, diagnosed with the coronavirus, will be discharged from hospital after recovery and testing negative. The patient, who has been under treatment at the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute since January 25, was identified by the Ministry of Public Health through screening of people in direct contact with those confirmed cases.
The condition of other confirmed cases is getting better. Two of them have been critically ill since they were admitted to the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute. Medical teams and specialists must still monitor their condition closely. The total number of confirmed cases in Thailand so far stands at 33. The number of those who have been cured and discharged from hospital stands at 12, while 22 remain hospitalized, and there are no new confirmed cases found in Thailand today.
Dr. Suwanchai said the Ministry of Public Health, in collaboration with the Faculty of Public Health Chiang Mai University and National Research Council of Thailand, has created an online self-screening form in Thai, Chinese and English for people suspected of being infected with Covid-19. People shall complete four questionnaires to assess their risk of Covid-19 infection.
"Now that coronavirus infections have been found in Thailand, people must raise their awareness of self-protection and assess whether they are at risk of infection. If they suspect they get infected and begin to show some symptoms, they should go to public and private hospitals for treatment according to relevant procedures," Dr. Suwanchai said.
The Westerdam cruise ship, was barred by many governments including Thailand, has been allowed to dock at Sihanoukville in Cambodia. Dr. Suwanchai said Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Chanchawirakun has ordered the land, water and air exit and entry departments to prepare plans to deal with the transfer of passengers from the Westerdam cruise ship to Thailand.
"This is only a backup plan because the cruise ship still docks in Cambodia. At the same time, we have communicated with relevant personnel to make plans to provide assistance to the Thais on the Westerdam cruise ship. There are two Thai passengers and 19 Thai sailors on board. It is natural that we should provide assistance to them and make plans in advance," said Dr. Suwanchai.
He also noted that if passengers from the cruise ship choose to transfer to Thailand, the Ministry of Public Health will do the same for those at risk of infection by screening them at airport gates. In land access, he Ministry of Public Health has exchanged information with the exit and entry department, and will determine screening level based on the risk level of entry. In waterway, although there exists less possibility, it is also important to plan ahead.
"Again, no suspected cases have been found among the passengers on board, and we do not choose to take action that could be discriminatory... It's inappropriate to rush into discriminatory action when the jury is still out, "said Dr. Suwanchai.
Regarding the Seabourn Ovation cruise ship, sailing from Langkawi, Malaysia, with 495 passengers on board, which docked at Phuket port on February 12, 2020, Dr. Suwanchai said the cruise ship will berth at the Phuket port for about 10 hours and no passengers will disembark and enter the city. Staff from the Department of Disease Control have checked the sanitary conditions of the ship and examined all passengers and crew on board. No suspected cases have been found. The health examination adopted the same standards applicable for inbound passengers by land, water or air.
"Please do not panic. The passengers on board are not infected with coronavirus. The cruise ship just docked here in accordance with its route, and has been filed with the outbound immigration authority according to the procedures," said Dr. Suwanchai.
Thais evacuated from Wuhan are still being quarantined at Sattahip Navy Hotel to observe their health conditions. They have been quarantined for nine day until today. One is confirmed case, who is currently receiving treatment at Chunburi Hospital. Laboratory tests have detected no Covid-19 virus. But the patient must wait for another test. If the result turns negative, doctors will allow the patient to leave the hospital.
"The remaining 137 Thais quarantined at the Sattahip Navy Hotel are in good condition and have not developed fever," Dr. Suwanchai said.
Source: InfoQuest, by Kasamarporn Kittisamphan/ Rachada, translated by Xinhua Silk Road
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