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Sick Cambodian children sent home from Sa Kaew

An official from Bangkok

An official from Bangkok

Eight Cambodian children found with high fever at Sa Kaew province's Rong Kluea border market yesterday were quarantined and deported to their homeland, as Thai authorities tried to control the spread of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD).

An outbreak of HFMD has killed dozens of children in Cambodia in recent months.

There are concerns that Cambodians crossing the border might bring the fatal strain of the disease with them.

Although HFMD is also spreading in Thailand, the commonly found strains here are not very dangerous. To date, there has been no confirmed HFMDrelated death on Thai soil.

Sa Kaew immigration chief Pol Colonel Sangkhom Tadso yesterday said his team inspected the border market after Thai tourists voiced fears that some Cambodian children might be HFMD carriers.

As many as 86 Cambodian children were found roaming the Rong Kluea market yesterday. None of them had crossed the border legally.

"We also found eight Cambodian children with a body temperature of over 39 degrees Celsius," Sangkhom said. "They were younger than 10 years old. We quarantined them and handed them over to Cambodian public health officials for further HFMD tests."

At border checkpoints, Thai officials are now using thermal scanners to screen incoming children. Fever is a symptom associated with HFMD. Those with body temperatures over 39C will not be allowed to enter Thailand.

According to Disease Control Department deputy directorgeneral Dr Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchai, the number of HFMD patients here rose to 13,918 on Tuesday from 13,169 on Sunday.

"This means the number of patients jumped by 749 in a matter of two days," Suwanchai said.

Dr Prasert Thongcharoen, an adviser to the World Health Organisation, said yesterday that the HFMD situation in the country was now a bit worrying.

He said experts from various authorities would today hold an academic discussion on HFMD controls.

Public Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr Paijit Warachit said the number of HFMD cases in Thailand could rise to 18,000 this year. All 77 provinces have reported at least one case of HFMD.

Yesterday, Paijit held a videoconference with directors of state hospitals across the country in a bid to better prevent the spread of the disease. Paediatricians were also invited to the meeting.

Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health director Dr Siraporn Sawasdivorn said the HFMD was mostly spreading among children under 5 years old.

In Bangkok, at least four schools were closed yesterday due to the outbreak of HFMD. Among them were Bangkok Christian College and Chulalongkorn University's primary demonstration school.

In Prachuap Khiri Khan, Hua Hin Municipality has ordered all seven schools under its supervision to suspend all kindergarten classes until July 24. The classrooms will be cleaned as a precaution against HFMD.

This year, as many as 200 people have come down with HFMD in Prachuap Khiri Khan.


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