The unhealthy season

The flu virus that is spreading in Thailand right now is not a new strain. So do not be too scared

People pushed the panic button when they heard Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha warned two weeks ago that the spread of the influenza virus this year would be greater than the last. The virus forced two Bangkok schools, Chulalongkorn University Demonstration Elementary School and St Joseph Convent School, to close some parts of the premises for inspection and cleaning after students were found to have been infected.

Although the discontinued classes have resumed, the influenza virus -- or the influenza Type A virus to be precise -- still rings the alarm bell. Altogether, up to four schools in Bangkok and two more in the provinces had to be temporarily shut down to prevent the virus from spreading.

According to figures from the Bureau of Epidemiology under the Ministry of Public Health's Department of Disease Control, as of Feb 6, around 6,800 people across the country have been reported to have been infected with the influenza virus this year. Five provinces with the highest infection rate per 100,000 people are Lamphun, Chiang Mai, Patthalung, Bangkok and Surat Thani. When compared to the same period last year, more than 11,500 people were reported to have been infected with the flu virus from Jan 1 to Feb 15, 2016 -- almost double this year's infection rate. In the entire 2016, more than 167,200 were reported to have fallen victim to the virus, with 44 deaths.

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