Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09BANGKOK1435
2009-06-16 07:17:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Bangkok
Cable title:  

MGSF01: 150 Thai H1N1 cases; Interagency Coordination

Tags:  KFLU AEMR ASEC CASC TBIO KSAF KPAO PREL PINR AMGT 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO9540
OO RUEHAST RUEHCHI RUEHDH RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHNH RUEHPB
RUEHPOD RUEHTM RUEHTRO
DE RUEHBK #1435/01 1670717
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 160717Z JUN 09
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7290
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 6672
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 7502
RUEHSV/AMEMBASSY SUVA 0470
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 001435 

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
DEPARTMENT FOR OES/IHB:JJONES,CPATTERSON; EAP FOR DHANNEMAN
DEPT FOR USAID/GBH
USDA FOR FAS AND APHIS
HHS FOR CDC
USCINCPACLO FOR AFRIMS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFLU AEMR ASEC CASC TBIO KSAF KPAO PREL PINR AMGT
MG, ECON, EAID, WHO, TH
SUBJECT: MGSF01: 150 Thai H1N1 cases; Interagency Coordination
Starting

BANGKOK 00001435 001.2 OF 002


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 001435

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
DEPARTMENT FOR OES/IHB:JJONES,CPATTERSON; EAP FOR DHANNEMAN
DEPT FOR USAID/GBH
USDA FOR FAS AND APHIS
HHS FOR CDC
USCINCPACLO FOR AFRIMS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFLU AEMR ASEC CASC TBIO KSAF KPAO PREL PINR AMGT
MG, ECON, EAID, WHO, TH
SUBJECT: MGSF01: 150 Thai H1N1 cases; Interagency Coordination
Starting

BANGKOK 00001435 001.2 OF 002


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

1. SUMMARY. The Thai Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of
Education held an interagency coordination meeting on June 9 to
discuss preparedness plans for the outbreak of H1N1 within the
country. A representative from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
(CDC) who attended the meeting found the coordination encouraging,
with information and recommendations current, accurate and
reasonable. As of June 15, Thailand has confirmed 150 H1N1 cases;
more are expected in the coming weeks as Thai students return from
abroad. END SUMMARY.
INTERAGENCY COORDINATION MEETING
--------------

2. (SBU) On June 9, officials from the Ministry of Public Health
(MoPH) and Ministry of Education met to discuss H1N1 preparedness
plans. The 40 participants included senior public health and
education officials, representatives from the private sector, at
least 10 members of the Thai press, and a representative from the
USG's Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The meeting was chaired by
Dr. Paichit Warachit, the Deputy Permanent Secretary for Public
Health. More meetings between the MoPH and the Ministry of
Education are planned. The CDC participant found the Thai
government's first real interagency coordination encouraging, with
information and recommendations current, accurate and reasonable.
Points made at the meeting include: Some H1N1 cases are to be
expected among returning students; close coordination between the
two Ministries was essential to limit and contain H1N1 transmission

among students in Thai schools and universities; and that the
Ministry of Education has final authority regarding school closures,
acting on the guidance of the MoPH.
STUDENTS RETURNING FROM ABROAD
--------------

3. (U) According to information presented at the meeting, hundreds
to possibly thousands of Thai student travelers, mostly college age,
will be returning from language study, work study and general travel
in North America during the next two to four weeks. The next
semester at Thai Universities will be starting soon, with concern
that returning students infected with H1N1 could start multiple
outbreaks at their schools. The government will implement
prevention and control efforts and will focus on students returning
from work and travel in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and
European Union countries. Information and awareness campaigns have
been recommended, with emphasis on non-pharmaceutical interventions
such as frequent handwashing, respiratory etiquette, appropriate use
of face masks, environmental measures, and regular exercise and
health maintenance. AFS International Programs, a global student
exchange organization, will postpone large gatherings of retuning
students. Travelers returning from overseas are being advised to
stay home for 3 to 7 days, and to see a doctor if they experience
flu-like symptoms. Dr. Passakorn Akkarasewee of MoPH requested that
the Ministry of Education assign points of contact at schools and
universities to ensure effective coordination.
SYSTEM FOR ACCESSING OUTBREAK STATUS
--------------

4. (U) Thailand has also designed a system to indicate outbreak
status throughout the country. Situation "A" means there are no
cases; situation B means there are few cases, mostly from travelers
returning to the country; and situation C means there is widespread
outbreaks in schools and communities. Different geographic areas
can have different "situations," depending on local conditions.
Health officials hope for most of Thailand to stay in situation B,
although Pattaya is in situation C due to a recent string of
outbreaks.

CURRENT OUTBREAK STATUS OF H1N1
--------------

5. (U) As of June 12 Thailand has confirmed 150 cases of H1N1 and
more are expected in the coming weeks. Two Taiwanese claimed to
have been infected with H1N1 during their visit to Pattaya. MoPH
officials confirmed 21 H1N1 cases in Pattaya. Five boys attending
the same school in Bangkok have also been confirmed with H1N1; the
school is now closed for one week to prevent further H1N1 while the
school is cleaned. Chiang Mai has confirmed its first case of H1N1.
Dr. Surasingha Wisarutrat, Medical Officer at the Chiang Mai Office
of Public Health confirmed one case of H1N1 in a Chiang Mai
University student who recently returned from summer work and travel
in the U.S. The student is currently under quarantine at Chiang Mai
University Hospital.

BANGKOK 00001435 002.2 OF 002



6. (U) The Pattaya and other cases were confirmed using the more
accurate Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test kit, which is in use
by all government hospitals. Private hospitals are permitted to
use either PCR or a 'quick test' which only tests for Influenza A
and B, after which the MoPH uses PCR to confirm H1N1.

7. (SBU) Dr. Wisarutrat believes the MoPH is prepared to deal with
the returning Summer Work and Travel (SWT) program students; MoPH
made public announcements asking people with flu-like symptoms to
stay home or see a doctor. MoPH is also recommending publicly that
anyone traveling in public transportation wear a mask, wash hands
frequently, and use hand sanitizer. The Chiang Mai Office of Public
Health also has a telephone hotline for the public. (Note: the SWT
program allows students on school break to hold temporary jobs in
the U.S. while on J-1 NIVs; these are typically summer student jobs
such as working at Disney World or fast food restaurants. The
program is quite popular with Thai students. End Note.)

8. (SBU) COMMENT: The June 9 interagency meeting was a step in the
right direction toward opening a productive and active line of
communication between the Ministries of Public Health and Education.
It will hopefully lead to more interagency cooperation especially
with regard to worst-case scenario planning for a widespread
pandemic in Thailand that will need to involve police and other
agencies. END COMMENT.


9. (U) POC is ESTH officer Hal Howard, howardhh@state.gov.

GRIFFITHS