When I see images like this I usually think of Japanese kids who often wear masks when they are ill or when they are concerned about catching a contagious disease. However, I took this picture this afternoon here in Thailand. The number of cases of people infected with the A/H1N1 virus has gone from a trickle to almost a flood overnight. In one discotheque alone in Pattaya, a staggering 17 workers have been found to been infected. Since then, a hundred or so new cases are being reported every day. At least half a dozen schools are being closed. Other work places are being told to inform public health officials if more than three people in one place become infected. The government are now moving into high gear. The Ministry of Public Health will now be holding a press conference every day. The Bangkok administration ordered a “Big Cleaning Day” on Monday. Leaflets were distributed and the public was told on how to avoid an infection. Should we now be panicking?
At this moment in time, the flu virus in Thailand and much of the world is not that serious. We presently have 310 confirmed cases which is much lower than some other countries. No-one has died either. The Thai government has been doing a good job of containing the situation. Thermal scanners were installed at the international airports. Their educational programme also seems to be working. People are certainly listening. The instructions passed down to our school include wearing masks if ill, visiting a doctor for any flu-like symptoms and thoroughly washing hands and face often during the day. We also took part in the “Big Cleaning Day” and the students and teachers took an hour off from studies to give the school a good scrub down. It is undoubtedly going to get worse before it gets better. However, at this moment in time, there is no reason to panic or be concerned. The strain presently in Thailand is curable. There is no reason to cancel holiday plans if you are about to fly to Thailand. We are still open for business.