Phuket tourism industry braces for swine flu impact

PHUKET CITY: A vice-president of the Phuket Tourist Association has warned that travelers and the general public could be frightened by the heightened level of alert for swine flu, which the WHO raised from phase 5 to phase 6, the highest level, on Thursday.

Phuket Tourism Association Vice-President for Marketing Bhuritt Maswongsa also noted that despite the phase 6 warning, the WHO has not recommended any border closures or restrictions on travel.

Thailand could expect more than 10,000 A(H1N1) infections nationwide as swine flu had already spread across the country, Public Health Minister Witthaya Kaewparadai has warned.

Authorities reported that the number of infections in Thailand rose to 89 yesterday, with 43 new confirmed cases.

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Dr Prat Boonyawongvirot, permanent secretary for public health, said the latest confirmed cases came from Bangkok, Songkhla, Phuket and Pattaya.

The one confirmed Phuket patient is being treated at a private hospital, the name of which has not been released.

The Phuket Public Health Office is also awaiting test results on at least 29 possible cases.

For our previous report on these cases, click here.

All hospitals on the island have set up quarantine areas to deal with possible cases of A(H1N1) infection.

The Health Ministry also sent officials to collect virus samples from 50 kindergarten students in a school in Pathum Thani suffering from high fever. Results are expected later today.

Mahidol University’s Faculty of Public Health yesterday suspended classes after learning that one of the students, who recently returned from the US, had been infected with the virus and was undergoing treatment at hospital.

Meanwhile, the Thai Hotels Association (THA) has urged entertainment venues, pubs and restaurants in Pattaya to close their outlets temporarily in order to help prevent the spread of A(H1N1) influenza.

THA president Chatchawal Supachayanont said bars and restaurants are usually crowded, so they should suspend business to avoid widespread infections.

Earlier, two Taiwanese visitors and local staff were found to have been infected inside a Pattaya disco.

Individuals are also advised to keep themselves fit and seek immediate treatment if they develop even mild flu symptoms.

Health Minister Mr Witthaya, who was in Phuket yesterday, said the Disease Control Department has a stock of the antiviral drug oseltamivir for 420,000 people, while the Government Pharmaceutical Organization is preparing to produce an additional 100,000 antiviral drugs.

Oseltamivir will be prescribed only to children aged under five, senior citizens 65 years and older and to any patients with weak immune systems.

— The Nation

Phuket News

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