Thailand finds itself in the throes of a hefty bout with the flu, the sheer scale of which has taken healthcare professionals and the public by surprise. The Office for Disease Control and Prevention 9 (OCP9) in Nakhon Ratchasima has witnessed a stark influx of patients over the previous months, wringing their hands with a pressing appeal to the public to step up preventive actions and not abandon the use of face masks.
Between the first day of this year and mid-September, the country has faced a staggering 185,216 flu cases, resulting in one unfortunate fatality, with women being the most affected group. Children between the ages of 10 to 14 are the most affected, closely followed by newborns to four-year-olds and seven to nine-year-olds. Health Area 9 that encapsulates the four northeastern provinces of Nakhon Ratchasima, Chaiyaphum, Buriram, and Surin, has reported 18,186 flu cases and one death. An alarmingly high number of patients, precisely 10,424, have been reported within just the past eight weeks.
Nakhon Ratchasima has earned the dubious distinction of having the largest number of flu patients, with the count standing at 4,088. This number shows a sharp contrast to the same time last year when the count was a mere 744. The increase in numbers is a common feature among the other provinces in the region as well, with Surin jumping from 214 last year to a startling 3,277 this year. Chaiyaphum and Buriram have also seen increases, now reporting 2,048 and 1,012 cases, respectively.
Usually a predictable cycle, the flu outbreak’s total count this year in Thailand is not just higher than the previous year, but also surpasses the median for the past five years. The age group feeling the impact the most in Health Area 9 is children between 5 to 9, followed by 10 to 14-year-olds, and newborns to 4-year-olds. Within Nakhon Ratchasima, the areas bearing the brunt are Chum Phuang and Bua Yai.
In response to this public health concern, the OCP9 has outlined a range of measures to stem the tide of the infection. The beacons of hope in this situation remain using face masks, getting vaccinations, and adhering to the “close, clean, avoid, stop” precautions:
- Close: When coughing or sneezing, it’s essential to cover your mouth and nose, and anyone with the flu should steadfastly wear a face mask.
- Clean: Be sure to frequently clean your hands with soap and water, especially after touching common surfaces like doorknobs, handrails, and elevator buttons.
- Avoid: Steer clear of close contact with nasal mucus, saliva, and sputum, and desist from sharing belongings with patients.
- Stop: If you are sick, refrain from attending school, going to work, or participating in activities involving crowds. Regardless of the severity of symptoms, getting ample rest at home until full recovery is advised.
As we move from the rainy season to winter, climatic fluctuations become a potent factor aiding in the spread of airborne diseases like flu, cold, and Covid-19. Given the escalating flu outbreak, caregiving for self and family becomes paramount. All of us should heed the updates and advice from reputable sources like KhaoSod and stick to preventive measures to safeguard our health.