PSU Phuket closed for two-day cleaning after swine flu death

KATHU, PHUKET: The Prince of Songkla University (PSU) Phuket campus has closed for a ‘big cleaning’ following the death of a 19-year-old student from swine flu complications last week.

The cleanup effort will target 1,500 university dorm rooms as well as common areas.

Speaking at a press conference at the Phuket Public Health Office on Thursday afternoon, PSU Phuket Assistant Dean Prof Metee Sunpanich said the cleaning will be carried out over four days.

All classes were canceled on Thursday and Friday to accommodate the effort. The new school term started on Monday following a mid-semester break.

But many students are still arriving back from their home provinces this week.

Prof Metee said vacant dorm rooms for students still arriving back would remain locked, and cleaned at a later date.

Private operators of student dormitories off-campus are also being urged to conduct thorough cleaning of their premises.

Prof Metee said prior to the student’s death, the campus community had been slow to react to implementing preventative measures to control the spread of A(H1N1).

“With proper prevention, we will control the spread of swine flu,” he added.

Phuket Public Health Office (PPHO) chief Dr Pongsawas Ratanasang said PPHO officers would be dispatched to the school to assist with the cleanup and public awareness campaign.

“We will send PPHO officers to give information to PSU students in order to stop panic at the University,” he said.

When classes resume, PSU staff will check students every morning for four common influenza symptoms; including coughing, a sore throat or nausea. Students with two or more of the symptoms will be separated and taken for treatment and testing, if necessary.

Daily student check-ups has been scheduled to run for two weeks, after which time it is hoped the campus can be declared free of the virus.

Vachira Phuket Hospital Director Dr Jessada Chungpaibulpatana told the Gazette his staff did everything possible to save the young victim last week, whose respiratory rate had reached as high as 60 breaths per minute just before his death.

Subsequent analysis of the victim’s lungs revealed the presence of a secondary infection by an unknown bacterial agent, he said.

Phuket Governor Wichai Phraisa-ngop expressed his condolences to the family of Phuket’s first swine flu victim, but asked the press and public to keep the situation in perspective.

Despite the death, Gov Wichai said there was no reason to panic. “The mortality rate from the new flu strain is very low,” he said.

“The public has been focusing on the spread of swine flu with the same intensity given to the baby panda in Chiang Mai,” he said.

Gov Wichai said samples of the victim’s blood and lung fluid would be sent for further analysis in Bangkok because the Phuket Medical Science Center that confirmed the presence of A(H1N1) is only capable of basic analytical procedures, he said.

Thus far there have been 41 confirmed swine flu cases in Phuket, with one death and one patient still under treatment at Vachira Phuket Hospital.

— Khunakorn Terdkiatkhachorn

Phuket News

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Legacy Phuket Gazette

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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