Friday, 12 June 2009

Samui prepares for the pandemic - H1N1 detection at SIA

Photo: Bangkok Post

Doing it's bit to thwart the spread of the H1N1 virus declared yesterday by WHO as a global pandemic, and as the foreign toll rises Samui International Airport has installed a thermal scanner to detect arriving passengers with a temperature of over 37 degrees Celsius.
Depending on other symptoms and their recent travel history, passengers will be sent to hospital for observation and treatment.

The scanner is identical to those installed at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport (pictured above) and will be a permanent feature of the facilities at Samui airport to make sure that, as far as practicable, all passengers coming in are free of infectious diseases that record elevated body temperature among their symptoms. It seems likely that visitors suffering with common colds or ordinary flu symptoms could get pulled-in and subjected to hospital confinement for a few days, but the inconvenience to the few is far outweighed by the benefit of reducing the potential for Swine Flu on the island.

Sirichai Charoenrat, senior director of Samui airport, has said, “We have no intention of causing panic among the passengers over the situation. We just want to make sure that this flu outbreak never spreads to Koh Samui.”

The Bangkok Post reports that the anti-viral medicine Oseltamivir, used to treat bird flu patients, was effective for people infected with the swine flu. The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation said it had a stockpile of 170,000 tablets of Oseltamivir which is enough to treat 17,000 patients.

In the case of an outbreak, the GPO could produce a million pills of Oseltamivir within four days.

Samui airport receives international direct flights from Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. It's not known if similar precautions to limit the spread of H1N1 will be taken at the island's ferry ports.

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