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MediaWATCH: Flu Medicos Told to Muzzle  Media

MediaWATCH: Flu Medicos Told to Muzzle Media

Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Phuketwan MediaWATCH

A daily wrap of Thailand news, with a Phuket perspective. Reports from national and international media, with translations into English from Thai.

Bangkok Post The Public Health Ministry is asking provincial health and hospital chiefs not to speak to the media about H1N1 cases to calm disquiet over the extent of the spread of the virus. Ministry spokesman Suphan Sithamma said a letter was being sent to senior health figures warning them not to say anything about the number of flu cases and details about the patients. All information was to be filtered through health authorities in Bangkok. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and other officials have urged people not to panic. The virus has a low fatality rate.

Phuketwan Opinion Sections of the media seem to be obsessed with numbers and hype. It is ludicrous to cover the H1N1 outbreak like a football game. The score is no longer important. Common sense will eventually prevail when the numbers grow too big to matter. That said, public health officials have a responsibility to inform the media about precise numbers in ALL health matters, including statistics on drownings, HIV etc. People have a right to know what's happening. Over time, there will be more outbreaks. The need is for honesty . . . as well as for more in-context reporting, not scare-mongering.

etaiwannews.com More than half of Taiwan's 49 cases of H1N1 swine flu cases were imported from Thailand, the Central Epidemics Command Center says, but Taiwan is not planning to ban travel to Thailand. Originally, most of the infections were imported by travelers arriving from the US, with later a couple of cases emerging from Australia and the Philippines. A total of 17 had been infected in the US, including two of five new cases.

Xinhua news agency An Australian expert has warned asthma and H1N1 flu are a potentially deadly mix. Dr Matthew Peters, head of respiratory medicine at a Sydney Hospital, said chronic heart or lung disease and diabetes were common ailments that could dramatically escalate the risk posed by the H1N1 virus. ''Around 40 percent of admissions to hospital with swine flu-related illnesses in the US have been in people with asthma,'' he said. There were 1762 confirmed cases of H1N1 in Australia, six percent of the world's total.

Associated Press Air France has replaced the air speed sensors on its entire fleet of Airbus A330 and A340 long-haul aircraft, a pilots' union official says. The company had been under pressure from pilots who feared the devices could be linked to the crash of Flight 447. In the deep waters of the mid-Atlantic, a Dutch ship began trolling with a high-tech US Navy listening device in search of the flight data and voice recorders. Investigators say information from those black boxes may be key to determining what caused Flight 447 to crash into the ocean with 228 people on board.

Reuters The economic crisis is not likely to worsen but there are still no signs of a significant improvement, Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney told European newspapers in an interview ahead of the Paris Airshow. ''I don't know when the crisis will end,'' McNerney was quoted as saying. ''We are stuck in this very bad economic situation, even if it remains once again manageable.'' If the situation continued until 2011 and 2012, it would be a ''challenge for all of us,'' McNerney added. Plane orders are expected to be thin on the ground this year after three bumper years, with the world's airlines expected to post losses of some $9 billion in 2009.

wsj.com Airbus and Boeing are taking a break from competing for new jetliner contracts to focus on a more urgent issue: saving the orders already on their books, which are threatened by the economic crisis. Airlines, struggling with shrinking passenger demand and trouble financing purchases, are placing few new orders and are instead pressing Boeing and Airbus to delay or cancel deliveries of jetliners they ordered years ago. The two rivals are scrambling to keep output steady and to avoid big production swings. Customers only pay a fraction of a plane's price on order, with the balance coming near its delivery.

msnbc Thailand has been in dire need of some good news recently thanks to political upheaval and the gloomy economic outlook. The surprise birth of a baby panda has cheered the nation. Officials at the Chiang Mai Zoo had tried unsuccessfully for years to breed the mammal and were unaware the mother was pregnant. Thailand joins the United States and Japan in a rare club: the only countries outside of China to breed a panda in captivity.

theepochtimes.com A contest to select a name for a female baby panda born in Chiang Mai Zoo is nearing the end with a one million baht ($29,300) prize to the winner. From the thousands of entries received, the Zoological Park Organization of Thailand has narrowed the selection down to four names: Ying Ying, Lin Ping, Thai-Jean and Khwan Thai. Each of the four contestants who submitted these names will receive 400,000 baht ($11,700) and an airfare ticket to China to tour panda sites.

businessweek.com Singapore retail sales suffered their biggest drop since 1999 as shoppers cut back on big-ticket items such as cars and furniture amid the city-state's worst ever recession. The statistics department said retail sales fell 11.7 percent from a year earlier. The government also said it slightly revised up its first quarter unemployment rate to 3.3 percent from 3.2 percent initially reported in April. ''Personal incomes are now suffering as well,'' said Robert Prior Wandesforde, senior Asia economist with HSBC. Singapore expects its economy to shrink up to 9 percent this year.

irinnews.org Thousands of children of Burmese migrant workers in Thailand are missing out on an education, specialists say. Under Thai policy, all children, regardless of their status in the country, can attend school, but many migrant children do not. While some cite problems of language or the lack of resources of individual schools, others have to work to support their families. Many attend migrant learning centres run by local NGOs instead, which are not recognised by the Thai Ministry of Education. Of the estimated 2.2 million migrants in Thailand, just over 500,000 are officially registered, making exact calculations of how many children are among them difficult.

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