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Phuket Airport staff sing for victory against swine flu

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET CITY: Sing “Happy Birthday” to combat swine flu. Bizarre as it may sound, this was one of many pieces of advice given by public health officials during Phuket International Airport’s (PIA’s) “Big Clean Day” [sic] yesterday.

But there is, in fact, method in the apparent madness.

As one Phuket Public Health Office (PPHO) officer explained to PIA staff, the quintessential birthday song takes around 20 seconds to sing. Sing it while washing your hands and you can make sure your hands are properly clean – and free of the A(H1N1) virus that causes swine flu.

Airports of Thailand (AOT) chairman Piyaphan Champasut explained what Big Clean Day was all about.

“We’re cleaning and repairing the airport because it’s been in use for a long time. We want to make it a clean, attractive and welcoming environment for tourists. And as swine flu spreads during 2009, passengers will trust in the standards of hygiene here,” he said.

Almost every PIA employee donned gloves and face mask to give the aging airport’s passenger terminal a thorough scrub.

Every surface likely to spread the virus was disinfected with alcohol, including ticket counters, seats, trolleys, escalators, the inside of the elevators, etc. Even tourists’ hands were sprayed.

PPHO officers were on hand throughout the day to advise Airports of Thailand (AOT) staff of proper hygiene procedures – and how to prevent the spread of swine flu.

“When we were young, our teachers taught us to sneeze into our hands. But now we need to start sneezing onto our shoulders, rather than hands. This system will help stop the virus spreading,” the PPHO officer said.

Mr Piyaphan said that arrivals at PIA were 15% down from the previous year.

“Fortunately, we’re not a swine flu transmission area. We have 60,000 tourists arriving here from Sweden between July and September this year. A lot of these tourists normally go to the United States at this time of year. But since swine flu is spreading over there they’ve changed their plans and are coming to Phuket,” he suggested.

— Khunakorn Terdkiatkhachorn


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

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