BANGKOK, Feb 12 – Thailand’s Public Health Ministry said this year’s unusually cold winter has so far claimed 64 lives, more than double last year’s deaths.
Permanent Secretary for Public Health Narong Sahametapat said 64 fatalities were reported in 31provinces between Oct 22 last year and Feb 2 this year.
He said temperatures in Thailand, particularly in the northern and north-eastern regions, have dropped to single digits.
Ninety three per cent of the deaths were men, the youngest being a 12-day old baby and the oldest aged 93. The northern province of Chiang Mai recorded the highest death toll at nine persons.
According to the investigation, he said, 64 were confirmed dead due to cold weather-related and other risk factors.
Dr Narong said most of the dead suffered from diseases that were worsened by the cold weather.
He said 45 provinces were declared cold-stricken disaster areas with 25 million people affected. The temperature dropped yesterday and today, particularly in the northern region which would directly impact the health of residents.
Dr Sopon Mekthon, director general of the Department of Disease Control said people did not wear warm enough clothes to protect themselves and that was the major factor that caused the weather-related death, followed by drinking alcohol which presumably reduced their awareness of the danger at hand.
Many fatalities occurred because the cold weather worsened underlying diseases they already suffer, he said.
Dr Sopon said the rising number of deaths may relate to the record low temperatures all over the country, except in the southern region. He said some areas have recorded subzero temperature.