Bird flu, HFMD outbreak under close watch

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BANGKOK, 2 September 2011 – The Ministry of Public Health has joined hands with related units to monitor and prevent the spread of avian influenza in humans and hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD) in children.

Public Health Minister Wittaya Buranasiri and Permanent Secretary for Public Health Medical Doctor Paijit Warachit inspected a war room set up at the Department of Disease Control to monitor the re-emerging epidemics both inside and outside the country to take preventive actions in time.

The minister admitted that the two concerning outbreaks at present are avian flu in humans and the HFMD in children. He said he assigned the war room to monitor and assess the situation around the clock and to report discovery of new patients immediately.

Mr Wittaya explained that Thailand this year experiences flood in many areas, and poultry hence have closer contacts with humans. He said all provincial public health offices and those near the Thai-Cambodian border are told to enforce stricter control.

The minister announced that he will send a letter to Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Theera Wongsamut to set up a war room at his ministry to prevent the outbreak and join further cooperation with his ministry accordingly.

As for the HFMD spread, Mr Wittaya reported that the situation in many provinces is improving with a declining number of new patients from 600 cases nationwide last week to 400 cases this week while total patients reported from January to August 2011 stood at 8,842 with four fatalities.

The minister stressed that HFMD prevention must be made continuously as his war room will join hands with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security to curb the HFMD spread.