Special Report: Thailand stepping up preparation for possible Ebola outbreak

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Thai officials are stepping up measures on the prevention and control of Ebola virus. Thailand remains on high alert against this disease, although there have been no report of Ebola cases in the country.

The Cabinet during its meeting acknowledged the Ebola situation and preparations for coping with infections by the Ministry of Public Health.

It also approved the use of the central fund to send Thai medical and health personnel to help West Africa. At the same time, Thailand will offer both financial assistance and necessary equipment to the affected countries. Donations will be sought through the Government, the Thai Red Cross Society, and the private sector.

According to a report from the Ministry of Public Health, the 2014 Ebola outbreak is one of the largest Ebola outbreaks in history. It is affecting five countries in West Africa: Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Senegal. There are cases in Spain and the United States, as well. The World Health Organization reported that there were 8,399 Ebola patients as of October 8. Out of this number, 4,033 have so far died from the disease. The outbreak is most severe in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.

As part of its measures against the virus, Thailand has screened travelers at nine areas, such as Suvarnabhumi Airport, sea ports, and border checkpoints. From June 8 to September 25, a total of 1,689 travelers were screened. Education campaigns have been launched to provide the public with proper knowledge and information about the Ebola virus. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has suggested that, unless necessary, Thai people should avoid traveling to West Africa for the time being.

Public Health Minister Professor Dr. Rajata Rajatanavin said that although Ebola poses a small risk to Thailand, the country should not be complacent. The Ministry of Public Health is joining hands with relevant agencies in closely monitoring the outbreak situation. It has declared Ebola infection a dangerous disease. Thai medical and health personnel have also been trained to deal effectively with the infections.

The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and it spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. The infection is transmitted by direct contact with body fluids: blood, perspiration, and tissues of infected animals or people. It causes an acute, serious illness which is often fatal if untreated. Early symptoms include sudden onset of fever, weakness, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat. These symptoms can appear between 2 to 21 days after infection.