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MediaWATCH: 'Pandemic' Phase 5, Tourist Masks

MediaWATCH: 'Pandemic' Phase 5, Tourist Masks

Thursday, April 30, 2009
Phuketwan MediaWATCH

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

Washington Post: The World Health Organisation warns that a global flu pandemic is imminent, raising its threat level as the swine flu virus spreads and kills the first person outside of Mexico, a toddler in Texas. ''Influenza pandemics must be taken seriously precisely because of their capacity to spread rapidly to every country in the world,'' WHO Director General Margaret Chan told a news conference in Geneva. Mexico's peso firms sharply on bets a deadly flu outbreak may not have as deep an economic impact as first expected.

WHO ALERT LEVELS: Phase 5, now declared, means human-to-human spread of virus is confirmed in two countries in one WHO region and pandemic is feared imminent. Phase 6 is characterised by community-level outbreaks in at least one other country in a second WHO region. This phase indicates global pandemic is under way.

The Nation: To prevent a so-called ''Mexican Human Flu'' outbreak in Thailand, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is planning to hand out 100,000 facemasks to taxi drivers and foreign tourists from tomorrow. Chulalongkorn Hospital said tests confirmed that a female patient, who developed suspicious symptoms after a trip to Mexico, merely has common seasonal flu. Samui International Airport becomes the fourth Thai airport with a thermo scan system. All visitors to Thailand now have to fill in questionnaires.

Bangkok Post: Thaksin Shinawatra's private plane travelled to Cambodia twice after the convicted former prime minister skipped bail, according to information leaked from the Royal Thai Air Force. A source said RTAF chief Itthaporn Subhawong ordered the air force radar centre to monitor movements along the Cambodia border. The centre confirmed that Thaksin's private jet was seen flying to Cambodia on two occasions. Cambodian officials denied contact; Southeast Asian governments will join Thailand in mapping out a regional strategy to fight the spread of swine flu.

AFP news agency: The US government is prepared to cope with a ''full-fledged pandemic'' if necessary, but the public should not be alarmed, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says. ''Our efforts have been to stay ahead of whatever number WHO assigns.'' She rejected calls from US lawmakers to close the nation's borders, saying that ''panicking'' was unhelpful and underlining that a regular flu season claims about 36,000 American lives every year.

Time: Even though the virus is referred to as swine flu, researchers do not yet know for sure that the A/H1N1 virus actually originated in pigs. There's no evidence yet of pigs getting sick in either Mexico or the US. The original reservoir for flu viruses is actually wild birds, which can spread infection to domestic birds and people, as with the H5N1 avian flu in Asia, and to pigs ''When you get a large concentration of pig farms, people, wild birds and poultry, these things do happen,'' says Peter Daszak, an expert on emerging diseases.

Kom Chad Luek: Taxes on cigarettes and alcohol are expected to rise to compensate for losses in income from the tourist indstry, the newspaper says. Cigarettes are likerly to rise 20 baht per pack of 20. Pattaya has suffered flooding after heavy rain last night. More than 100 homes were seriously damaged.

Daily News: A total of 105 Thais have registered in Mexico to be returned to Thailand if the flu situation grows to extremes. The Labor Day holiday on Friday has triggered the idea that highly skilled Thai workers could find jobs overseas. From October to March this year, 70,000 have gone overseas and numbers are increasing annually. Large amounts of income have been returned to Thailand, including 65 billion baht last year alone.
Khaosod: Samui tourism numbers are down by 50 percent because of the red shirt activity and the economic crisis. Local travel-related businesses are expected to seek five million baht to boost marketing and packages on offer in the islands September to November low season.

Thai Rath: The saga of 14-year-old enchantress and Miss Teen winner Intira ''Cartoon'' Ketvorahuntorn continues to attract large audiences. Blamed for breaking up a marriage, Khun Intira, now out of her teens, is still being asked by reporters whether she has had other lovers. She also still wears her school uniform when out shopping; Schoolbooks are in short supply nationally this year, the newspaper says.

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Latest The world is urged not to panic or stop flying as health officials react to the threat of swine flu. And the hunt continues for fugitive PM Thaksin Shinawatra.
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Monday MediaWATCH: Thai Alert on Swine Fever
Updating Report Swine fever takes priority. National and international onlookers also feel Thailand's economic and political pulse in Chiang Mai, Ayutthaya, Pattaya, Bangkok and Washington.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


So the US has 36,000 deaths a year from flu anyway? No wonder the pig farmers are upset about the label 'swine flu.' Guess it's good news for surgical mask makers, though, if tourists are wearing them. Nice wrap, MediaWATCH.

Posted by Angelfire on April 30, 2009 05:23

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