The fatal respiratory disease MERS has spread to Thailand, with one case reported there and a total of 175 people reportedly exposed to that person in the four days it took to confirm the illness.
Much other news surrounding Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is positive, however. The condition of Thailand’s only case has improved, all of the contacts have been traced and none have been found to have the disease. The 175 contacts have been told to avoid public spaces. Medical personnel are monitoring their health.
One of Thailand’s leading hospitals, Bumrungrad in Bangkok, known for treating medical tourists, confirmed on Friday it had received the country’s first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a 75-year-old man from Oman. The man had travelled to Bangkok for medical treatment for a heart condition and had been found to have MERS.
The hospital has quarantined nearly 60 staff but operations continue as normal.
Tourism accounts for 10% of the Thai economy and medical tourists make up more than 10% of visitors, according to Tourism Authority of Thailand figures. About a third of those medical tourists come from the Middle East, the region where MERS began.
Thai International moved quickly to reassure customers.
THAI President Charamporn Jotikasthira said measures to combat MERS included moves to:
- Screen passengers and ground customer services;
- Monitor passengers before check-in and in some cases require a doctor’s letter of health certification;
- Monitor passengers during the flight;
- Antibacterial solution to be used inside the aircraft while the aircraft is parked at the airport;
- Deep clean and disinfect 36 touch points in the passenger cabin;
- Carry personal protective equipment aboard and educate staff about preventive health care;
- Check containers and prevent delivery of suspect goods;
- Dietary measures including selection of raw produce, ensuring clean meal preparation methods and avoiding risks of infection.
THAI implemented these prevention measures ever since the SARS outbreak in 2003, H5N1 in 2014, and Ebola whereby these measure received recognition by the World Health Organization (WHO), the airline said.
THAI is collaborating with the country’s Ministry of the Public Health to closely monitor the situation. Other measures have been implemented by the Ministry of Public Health.
Written by Peter Needham