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Thais told to avoid Ebola-vulnerable areas

The Foreign Ministry yesterday warned Thais to avoid entering areas vulnerable to a deadly Ebola outbreak, to monitor the situation closely that has hit West Africa hard and, if travel to these areas is necessary, to register with the closest Thai embassy.

Concerned agencies have stepped up measures to monitor and screen travellers from risky areas, although Suvarnabhumi Airport has not yet installed thermal scanners, the ministry said. International airports in Thailand should have devices and measures installed to determine whether passengers arriving from West Africa could be infected with Ebola, Dr Pirapong Saicheua, chairman of the Infectious Disease Association of Thailand, said.

He said devices showing the heat signature of passengers should be made available at the airports and filling out forms to show where passengers have travelled from should be made mandatory, he said, adding that Changi Airport in Singapore was doing that two weeks ago. However, he said there was no need to worry.

The director-general of the Department of Disease Control, Dr Sopon Mekthon, said the heat-detecting method was not yet necessary as Thailand was still regarded at low risk of suffering an Ebola threat.

He added that normal disease-quarantine operations were already in place at international airports.

Public Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr Narong Sahametapat had earlier said clinical measures had been put in place to prevent the virus popping up here.

The Bureau of Epidemiology is closely monitoring the global Ebola situation through coordination with the World Health Organisation and nationwide public health offices are monitoring foreign tourists and Thai returning from West Africa.

Government hospitals have been instructed to treat suspected Ebola patients using a higher treatment standard, and the Department of Medical Sciences is heightening its lab-based operations, which are supported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meanwhile, there have been reports that fears over the outbreak spreading to other continents grew on Wednesday, with European and Asian countries on alert and a leading medical charity warning that the epidemic was out of control.

Doctors Without Borders said the crisis gripping Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone would only get worse and warned there was no overarching strategy to handle the world's worst outbreak of the disease.


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