Swift action taken by the Thai health authorities has restricted the number of confirmed cases of MERS to a single individual, with no more cases being reported as of 22 June, 2015. Meanwhile, all visitor arrivals are flowing normally via all international gateways and the travel and tourism industry remains in full operation.
According to the Ministry of Public Health, the first case of MERS-CoV infection was confirmed on 18 June, 2015, a 75-year-old patient from Oman. He was quickly moved from Bumrungrad Hospital to a quarantine room at the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Disease Institute. All those who had come into contact with the patient, including his relatives and hospital personnel, were also immediately checked and cleared.
As of today, the patient is reported to have been only “mildly affected” and recovering. The Ministry has assured the Thai public and visitors that full-scale surveillance and response systems have been put in place for rapid detection and effective management of MERS, with good coordination between the public and private sectors.
Health authorities are also on full alert at Suvarnabhumi Airport. The Airports of Thailand has announced that, in close cooperation with the Department of Disease Control, thermal imaging cameras have been put in place to screen the body temperatures of all incoming passengers.
In addition, airport executives are working with Immigration Division 2, the Customs Bureau and the Airline Operators Committee (AOC) on common guidelines and preventive measures. Airport medical teams are on standby and protective gear including surgical masks have been made available.
A health advisory has been put in place at various spots of the airports including check-in counter areas, carousels and departure concourses, while antiseptic gels are also provided at boarding gates. Pamphlets containing preventive measures are also distributed onboard flights coming from affected countries.
The World Health Organisation has not issued any travel restrictions for travel to and from any countries but advised travellers to be vigilant, and take normal hygienic precautions; such as, regular hand-washing and consuming well-cooked food.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has acted to coordinate the flow of information with the public health authorities and onward dissemination to all its overseas offices, travel trade and media contacts worldwide. The Thai private sector is doing the same. TAT Acting Governor, Mrs. Juthaporn Rerngronasa said, “We would like to applaud the swift response action taken by the health authorities to nip the spread of the MERS virus.”