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Ebola 'must be added' to danger list

Medical experts aim to ensure quarantine

A PANEL of experts has recommended that the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD) be added to the list of dangerous communicable diseases in Thailand, which also includes cholera, plague, severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), smallpox and yellow fever.

So far, there has been no EVD case in Thailand.

Professor Dr Prasert Thong-charoen, who leads the panel on academic affairs and strategies for the national-level prevention of emerging infectious disease, said yesterday that EVD should be included in the list so officials can legally quarantine suspected patients. "If EVD is not included in the list, quarantining suspected patients against their will can be considered a violation of their rights," he explained.

He was speaking after his panel convened a meeting to discuss EVD.

"Quarantine is an effective measure to control the disease," he said.

According to the World Health Organisation, there were 163 new cases of EVD (laboratory-confirmed, probable and suspect cases) recorded on July 31 and August 1 alone, with 61 deaths reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Prasert said he did not believe there would be an EVD outbreak in Thailand, but added that the risk could not be completely ruled out given that international travel was part of daily life.

"EVD incubation takes two to 21 days, but carriers cannot spread the disease until they develop symptoms," which he said included fever, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhoea and bleeding.

Prasert said his panel would also recommend that relevant authorities monitor the health of passengers travelling from Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, and if they have fever upon arrival, they will be observed for 21 days.

"Relevant authorities must also get laboratories ready to conduct tests on both humans and animals," he said.

In a related development, the Foreign Ministry has instructed Thai embassies in Africa to monitor the situation closely and provide advice to Thais living in African countries.

Though there are no Thai expatriates in Guinea or Sierra Leone, there is one Thai citizen who works for a United Nations unit in Liberia, and there are three half-Thai children in that country too.




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