It took 8 weeks for Thailand to reach 1500 confirmed cased of the A H1N1 flu virus and 8 days to reach the next 1500 cases. Academics see the epidemic a big blow to Thai economy if the flu outbreak is not kept under control by September.
Among what is in response to the ever-escalating flu threat, the Thai cabinet meeting endorsed that all tutoring schools throughout the country will be closed during July 13-28.
The Public Health Ministry found that many patients, who are students, have contracted the virus from tutoring schools. The cabinet also asked owners of net cafes to cooperate with the government by closing their businesses during the same period so as to help curb the virus spreading.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said that the situation will be closely monitored and patients under close observation. Although Thailand has low rate of A/H1N1 deaths (0.4 percent of those confirmed cases), he vowed that his government expanding its response to contain the A/H1N1 outbreak and to bring a halt to the rising death toll.
There have been calls from doctors to “close the borders” to Thailand. The Prime Minister feels this is not called for.
“There is no need to close down the country to halt the spread of the flu virus”, said Abhisit after meeting with the Health Minister.
The Thai premier accepted that the number of A/H1N1 patients may be higher than those officially confirmed by lab tests, but affirmed that the government is not hiding the situation or withholding information.
The spreading of the new flu strain in Thailand has been speeding up since July. Thailand reported its first two cased on May 12 when Thailand. As of 9th of July there are almost 3000 confirmed cases – 1600 of those this month alone.
Academics see the epidemic a big blow to Thai economy, as director of the Economic and Business Forecasting Center at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, Thanawat Polwichai, warned Wednesday that it could further shrink the ailing economy if the government fails to curb the outbreak.
Thanawat said that if the flu outbreak is not kept under control by September, it will destroy the people’s confidence and reduce domestic consumption and touring. As a result, it would reduce the gross domestic product (GDP) for the forth quarter of the year to only zero to one percent, from the previous projection of one-two percent. The economic growth rate for 2009, in turn, could contract by about 3.8-4.8 percent, from earlier forecast of 3.5-4.5 percent, he said.
H1N1 in Asia
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Confirmed cases as of July 9, 2009. NOTE: Most patients have recovered.