On 3rd July 2015 Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health declared the country free of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) after lab test of its first and only MERS patient, a 75-year-old Omani man, showing no sign of the virus. Meanwhile, lab test on 176 others who had come into contact with the man also shows no sign of the virus.
However, the Ministry said that it would continue its precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the virus into the country, especially monitoring inbound passengers from countries known to have experienced the spread of MERS. Checkpoints with thermal imaging cameras have been installed at international airports.
The general public has also been advised to adhere to sanitary practices to protect themselves against the virus as well as take extra precaution when travelling to countries with report of MERS cases.
A number of key players in Thailand have announced extra measures to prevent the spread of the MERS virus, with agencies joining forces to ensure the safety of all stakeholders.
Thailand via the measures of the Airports of Thailand Public Company Limited (AOT) who operates the six international airports comprising of Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket and Hat Yai, closely monitor incoming passengers by setting up temperature monitoring stations (Thermoscans), and notify incoming passengers the measures taken by the Thai government and airlines.
Bangkok’s gateway hub has also worked closely with various agencies concerned including the Immigration Division 2, the Customs Bureau and the Airline Operators Committee (AOC) on common guidelines and measures to control the spread of the outbreak into Thailand.
Airport medical teams are also on standby to monitor visitors coming countries affected by MERS and protective gear, including surgical masks, have been made available.
Thai Airways International (THAI) is also collaborating with the Ministry of the Public Health to closely monitor the situation and take preventative measures in relation to aircraft service provision and safety.
THAI’s preventive MERS measures include screening passengers before check-in and in some cases requiring a doctor’s letter of health certification, monitoring passengers during the flight, spraying an antibacterial solution inside the aircraft while parked at the airport, and deep cleaning and disinfecting 36 touch points in the passenger cabin. Personal protective equipment will also be carried on board and staff will be educated about preventive health care, while raw catering materials will be carefully selected and clean meal preparation methods used to avoid the risk of infection.
Advice to MICE Travellers
The Department of Disease Control, under the Royal Thai Ministry of Public Health, advises all travellers who have visited a MERS CoV-affected area within the past two weeks to call the department hotline on 1422 if they develop influenza-like symptoms such as a fever, acute respiratory tract infection, or cough. Travellers with these symptoms are also advised to visit a hospital and inform their travel history to the physician.
Operation of MICE Industry
International stakeholders are advised that Thailand’s MICE industry continues to operate as normal, and all hotels, venues and attractions are open and ready to welcome MICE travellers.
As the government’s flagship body for the MICE sector, TCEB will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates to all stakeholders. Should travellers require any further information or assistance, please call TCEB office: +66 (0) 2694 6000 or TCEB call centre at 1105 (within Thailand only), visit www.tceb.or.th or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.