Ministry takes preventive action after Ebola outbreak

The Public Health Ministry is taking precautionary measures against Ebola as the death toll from an outbreak of the virus in Guinea continues to rise.

At least 66 people have now died, and reports from the World Health Organisation on March 27 said the Ebola outbreak has infected at least 106 people, prompting the ministry to keep a close watch on the situation.

There is no vaccine or treatment for the disease, which has a fatality rate of around 90%.

Thailand has a low chance of encountering Ebola, but “we will not underestimate the situation”, public health permanent secretary Narong Sahamethaphat said yesterday.

Mr Narong has ordered authorities to implement three safety measures to prevent any possible outbreaks here.

Public health offices nationwide have been told to monitor foreign tourists and Thais who have travelled from Guinea or other west African countries where patients infected by Ebola have been documented.

The ministry views this as a necessary precaution, even though the WHO has so far not announced any travel restrictions on Guinea and its neighbours.

The Department of Medical Sciences has also been told to prepare its laboratory facilities for the detection of the Ebola virus if suspected cases arise in Thailand.

Lastly, Mr Narong added, medical staff have been ordered to prepare all available treatments for potential patients so that care can be offered at the same standard as during the bird flu and Sars scares in recent years.

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