Thailand steps up efforts against MERS spread

Bangkok, June 22 (IANS) Thailand has stepped up efforts against spread of the Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, ahead of Muslim pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia to perform Haj in September, media reported on Monday.

According to the foreign ministry, Thailand has improved its screening measures at three border checkpoints with Malaysia and added another thermal scanner at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport, The Bangkok Post reported.

Thermal scanners have been set up at arrival gates for people from risk countries and at immigration. The Immigration Bureau has set up a special section in a different part of the airport to process people from risk countries.

A 75-year-old man from Oman was confirmed as the country’s first positive MERS case. He is currently in a stable condition.

According to the religious affairs department, 10,400 people from Thailand are likely to perform Haj. Visitors will begin leaving for Riyadh in August and return as late as October.

Surachet Satitramai, the Public Health Ministry’s acting permanent secretary, said Muslims will not be stopped from attending the Haj. However, when people return they will be monitored for 14 days to a month to make sure they are safe from infection.

Meanwhile, 94 people who came into contact with the first patient are being monitored.



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