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Prince Mahidol Award

Posted by hasekamp on 30 January 2004 at 11:47 AM
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej conferred the honorable Prince Mahidol Award 2003 to two selected winners yesterday. The presentation ceremony was graciously held at the Chakri Throne Hall. The winner of the Prince Mahidol Award 2003 in the field of medicine is China Cooperative Research Group on Quinghaosu and its Derivatives as anti-malaria drugs, while the winner in the field of public health is Prof. M.D. Herbert L. Needleman of the United States.
Qinghao (Artemisia annia L.) is a traditional Chinese herb that has been used in China for treating malaria for more than 1,500 years. In 1971, Chinese scientists extracted a compound from qinghao, named Qinghaosu (artemisinine), which is an anti-malaria drug. The research group studied Qinghaosu and its derivatives ? the chemical structure, the synthesis, pharmacology, toxicology and clinical studies. The medicine was found to be effective in some forms of malaria. Since its discovery, qinghaosu has saved millions of malaria patients worldwide, it was said.
Prof. M.D. Needleman is professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine, in the United States. He has made significant contributions to the understanding and prevention of childhood lead poisoning. His findings have provided the stimulus to nations around the world, including Thailand, to remove lead form gasoline supplies.
Each award consists of a medal, a certificate, and a cash prize of US$ 50,000. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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WHO wants Thailand to take initiative

Posted by hasekamp on 30 January 2004 at 11:47 AM
World Health Organization (WHO) epidemiologists yesterday called on Thailand to act as a global center for the development of personnel to deal with the avian flu crisis that is sweeping across Asia. Speaking after discussions with the Public Health Minister and other officials, the WHO representative promised full WHO support in determining how avian flu was spread, in treating patients, and in developing laboratories to conduct research into the disease.
Meanwhile the WHO expressed optimism that 10,000 diagnostic kits, soon to be received from the United States, would greatly assist public health officials in isolating avian flu patients and providing timely treatment. A committee containing WHO representatives has been established to determine the exact number of avian flu cases in humans, with the Ministry of Public Health admitting that such cases are often extremely difficult to diagnose correctly. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Pigeons to be destroyed

Posted by hasekamp on 30 January 2004 at 11:45 AM
All pigeons in central Bangkok will be destroyed to prevent the spread of bird flu, a senior city official said yesterday. Areas that require urgent action are those where thousands of pigeons normally gather for food, like Sanam Luang, Wat Suthat Thepwararam and Wat Mahathat, the Deputy Bangkok Governor said. The BMA will also ask the public not to feed birds, especially pigeons. The Livestock Development Department has advised city officials to mix bird feed with lao khao (traditional white liquor) to make it easy to catch the pigeons and later kill them. Food vendors on Silom Road and near the Rama I Bridge will be instructed to clean their stalls with boiling water in order to prevent the possible spread of the virus. Numerous pigeons stay in the two areas, mostly hanging on electrical wires, and their droppings are a nuisance for both vendors and passers-by.
The Chatuchak district chief said that the local authorities were waiting for further instructions from the Bangkok governor about destroying fowl. He called on people raising birds in the control zone to voluntarily cull their birds. (Source: The Nation)


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Focus on early detection in humans

Posted by hasekamp on 30 January 2004 at 11:44 AM
The Public Health Ministry will concentrate on early detection of possible bird flu infection in humans, in a bid to prevent more people dying, a senior official said. Health volunteers in villages nationwide will be called for a briefing on the outbreak today and asked to pay special attention to children under 12, and of course particularly in disease-plagued areas. The ministry also wants people to keep an eye on monks, particularly at temples that keep chickens. Children are most vulnerable to human infections.
Ten people have been listed now as suspected bird flu cases, of which six have died, four in Sukhothai and one each in Bangkok and Suphan Buri. Survivors are from Phitsanulok, Ayutthaya, Chainat and Nakhon Sawan. The only surviving confirmed bird flu case, a seven-year-old boy from Suphan Buri, is still in critical condition.
WHO officials should be able to look at each patient next week. Meanwhile foreign news media report that Thailand does not possess the right tests for human infection with bird flu. The Thai government therefore has asked Autralia and the US to help with this problem. (Source: The Bangkok Post; last paragraph: Dutch radio)


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Virus spreads

Posted by hasekamp on 30 January 2004 at 11:44 AM
Suphan Buri and Kanchanaburi have been removed from the list of bird flu quarantine zones, but six more provinces were put on the list yesterday. The addition brings the number of provinces where poultry is infected by the virus to 29. The Nation writes that 31 provinces are on the list now.
The six newly added provinces are Nan, Chiang Rai, Si Sa Ket, Surin, Nakhon Phanom and Prachin Buri. A government spokesman also said the European Union and the World Health Organization agreed that the government's containment measures met international standards. Although bird flu was detected in six new provinces, infection rates were low. Authorities would work out containment measures for Bangkok, where bird flu was detected in Bung Kum and Chatuchak districts. No farms or owners of rare birds would be given special privileges. Bird vendors at Chatuchak market, Safari World zoo and amusement parks have opposed the destruction of their birds. (Source The Bangkok Post)


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Thai herbs are said to halt bird flu

Posted by hasekamp on 29 January 2004 at 20:00 PM
We were expecting the news report that follows here, sooner or later: Thai researchers, desperately trying to find ways of stemming the nation?s avian flu epidemic, yesterday announced that they had discovered five herbs that appeared to halt the virus in laboratory conditions. A spokesman of the Department for the Development of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine said that research by a herbal expert indicated that four or five Thai herbs might halt the spread of the bird flu that has decimated Thai chicken flocks over recent weeks. These herbs included beetroot, kariyat (Androgrphis paniculata) and white camphor, while the substance EGCG from green tea was also found to halt the spread of influenza types A and B.
However, the spokesman warned that more research needed to be carried out, as the results were as yet far from conclusive. Whatever crises arrives, there always will be people in Thailand, trying to fight it with traditional Thai medicine. So far we have more confidence in the application of "modern" ways to fight this highly dangerous epidemic. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Bird flu summit gives confidence

Posted by hasekamp on 29 January 2004 at 20:00 PM
The Ministerial Meeting, also known as the 'bird flu summit', ended here yesterday with constructive and fruitful results, according to Foreign Minister. He said that participating parties agreed that international-level cooperation, and shares of information with transparency, or non-covering up of data, and constructive coordination were essential for efficaciously tackling the avian influenza. Well, was there a more obvious conclusion possible?
Participating parties were namely Cambodia, China, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). They also agreed that daily contacts to exchange updated information among parties concerned should be encouraged. The participating parties agreed as well that countries and parties concerned should intensify efforts at national, regional, and international levels to prevent and control the outbreak of the disease to restore confidence among people, he disclosed.
Although we find these results obvious, we do not want to say that this conference was not important. We believe that it was extremely important that this conference was held and the results mentioned reached. So, although skeptical, we also are hopeful that the bird flu will be combated with all available means. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Second bird flu death

Posted by hasekamp on 27 January 2004 at 19:20 PM
A six-year-old Thai boy died of bird flu in hospital Tuesday, his doctor said. This is the second confirmed death from the disease in Thailand. He died of severe pneumonia after he was admitted to a hospital in Phitsanuloke on January 15, following a referral from hospitals in his province Sukhothai. The boy's mother died earlier this month in Sukhothai but he could not confirm whether she also had bird flu. The health ministry said Monday that the boy was among two confirmed and five suspected cases of bird flu in Thai children. Five adults suspected of having the disease had already died. Another six-year-old boy from Kanchanaburi province, who died Sunday, was Thailand's first casualty from the bird flu virus that has swept to at least eight Asian nations now. By the way, we just learn from one of our contacts in Thailand thet chickens are still widely for sale there. (Source: The Nation)


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WHO warns to do poultry destruction properly

Posted by hasekamp on 27 January 2004 at 19:18 PM
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned people carrying out poultry destruction to combat an avian influenza epidemic in Asia, to wear protective equipment and clothing or risk contracting the deadly virus. Avian influenza has so far killed at least seven people, but many more have been infected and the death toll is expected to rise as the virus spreads. Nine Asian countries have confirmed or suspected outbreaks of bird flu, with Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos and Pakistan all battling accusations of a cover-up. The epidemic has forced governments to order the mass slaughter of millions of chickens in infected areas. Environmental clean up should be carried out using strict protective measures, it added. We have seen chickens, put in plastic bags and being buried alive. This seems no proper way to deal with the problem. Not proper, seen from the point of view of humans, and not a proper way for the chickens to be killed. In Europe spokespeople fear that this bird flue epidemic is getting out of hand, because of insufficient experience with similar situations in Asian countries. (Source: The Nation)


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The tourism industry must go on!

Posted by hasekamp on 26 January 2004 at 19:41 PM
Thailand today addresses mounting international concern over its avian flu crisis by calling on its ambassadors across the globe to explain the situation to the international community. A Foreign Office spokesman said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had passed on information on the situation from the ministries of Agriculture and Public Health to embassy and consulate staff across the world, with a focus on major export markets for Thai chicken products. He expressed hope that the information would provide the ambassadors with the necessary facts, which could then be passed on to the governments and private sectors of the countries in question. In our opinion Thailand's main target is tell the wolrd taht it is safe to visit Thailand, bird flu or not. We hope, though, that we are wrong.
On Wednesday Thailand is due to host a ministerial level international summit on the avian flu crisis. It has been confirmed already that delegates to date included the Chinese agriculture minister or minister of public health, the Vietnamese foreign minister and senior public health officials, as well as representatives and experts from international bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Details about human bird flu victims

Posted by hasekamp on 26 January 2004 at 19:33 PM
The first human death from bird flu was confirmed by the Public Health Ministry yesterday, as eight more provinces were declared quarantine zones (radio sources speak of 12 priovinces today). Five other deaths were also suspected to be from avian influenza, one from Chachoengsao and four from Sukhothai, with another five patients in hospital with suspected infection. The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry said 54 chicken carcasses had now tested positive for bird flu, with thousands more still to be checked. The provinces confirmed are Chainat, Sing Buri, Phitsanulok, Sukhothai, Kamphaeng Petch, Pichit, Uthai Thani and Uttaradit. They have been placed under quarantine yesterday, in addition to Suphan Buri and Kanchanaburi. Quarantine means all chickens on infected farms and within a five-kilometre radius must be slaughtered. Poultry farmers in the quarantined provinces should be prepared for the next round of mass slaughter.
The director-general of the Disease Control Department said a six-year-old boy from Kanchanaburi treated for suspected bird flu at Siriraj Hospital over the last 10 days died early yesterday of the disease. The ministry has listed 10 other patients, including five already dead, suspected of having bird flu. Tests had not been completed. The five fatalities were a 56-year-old man from Chachoengsao, and four others from Sukhothai who included the mother of the third confirmed bird-flu case. The others were a 52-year-old woman, an 18-year-old man and a 75-year-old man. So the bird flu strikes all ages. Others suspected to have the disease are a six-year-old boy from Suphan Buri, a five-month-old boy from Chainat, a two-year-old boy from Nakhon Sawan, a three-year-old girl from Suphan Buri and an 11-year-old girl from Ayutthaya. But so far only three bird flu cases have been officially confirmed. Two are recovering at Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health. The third has died. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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First death from bird flu

Posted by hasekamp on 26 January 2004 at 11:01 AM
A girl has died last night of bird flu, and several people are hospitalized for bird flu in Thailand now. The Thai government no longer denies that the deadly disease is in Thailand and can kill people. We will come back with more details about the death case later. The army has been called to help in eliminating (possibly affected) chickens. This news is still very hot. What follows now is one day old.
The Thai government has mapped out an action plan to tackle the bird-flu epidemic, and expects to win the battle within three months, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said.
The number one priority, as stipulated by the prime minister, is to restore public confidence as quickly as possible. We wonder if this will be easy. The government has denied systematically that there was bird flu at all in Thailand and later denied that it could affect humens. First the Agriculture Ministry must identify the source of the virus by taking samples in all chicken-raising areas, including the non-danger zones. The sampling must be conducted every three to seven days. If the virus is discovered, it must be contained and chickens in the area must be destroyed.
Mr. Somkid said Thailand should turn the crisis into an opportunity to eliminate all open chicken farms once and for all. Closed farming, which has been resisted by farmers in the past, could now be implemented, he said. On the second action plan, Somkid said the Public Health Ministry has been instructed to conduct an extensive campaign to inform the public about bird flu to clear up the current "confusion" (quotes are by Hasekamp Net). It is important for people to understand that the disease is not easily transmitted. The ministry has also been asked to identify hospitals and health centers in all provinces that can deal with the illness. Any cases found must be immediately reported to assigned authorities.
Talks will start next week with the World Health Organization on assisting with measures to combat the disease. The third action required was to open talks with importing nations, including Japan and the European Union. EU countries and Japan have banned chickens from Thailand.
The government, meanwhile, has denied any cover up of the bird flu epidemic. We are afraid that, as usual, the tourism industry will prevail above public health in fighting the disease. We therefore are afraid that the government will fight the disease, but at the same time try to comfort the public opinion that there is not much risk and that Thailand is safe for tourists in the meantime. (Sources: Dutch radio, for the first paragraph, and The Nation)


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Bird flu after all!

Posted by hasekamp on 23 January 2004 at 19:15 PM
Thai senior health and agriculture officials will meet urgently today amid speculation that one of three hospitalized patients has avian influenza. Results of medical tests are due out today, with the government under mounting pressure from activists to tell the public the truth. Samples have been taken for tests from three hospitalized patients, in Nakhon Sawan, Suphan Buri and Kanchanaburi provinces, suspected of being infected. The World Health Organization warned that Thailand's credibility was on the line if the government left the public playing a guessing game. Japan yesterday banned chicken imports from Thailand and the European Union said it would ban Thai chicken if the tests for bird flu were positive.
The Ministry remained firm in insisting that to date there has been no confirmed case of avian influenza.
Meanwhile poultry farmers in Suphan Buri had a most terrible day yesterday when hundreds of livestock officials raided their farms and slaughtered all their birds in a bid to contain an outbreak of chicken diseases. The operation was launched after the Livestock Department declared the province the country's first quarantine zone since the outbreak began in November. Farmers begged the officials to spare the healthy chicken, but officials insisted that every bird must be destroyed. Under the quarantine zone rules, all poultry found within a 5 km radius from an affected farm must be destroyed. About one million chickens at 200 farms in Suphan Buri will be destroyed in the next few days. There are about 8 million farm chickens in Suphan Buri.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in the meantime has denied that the government is covering up bird flu cases, saying even if the three sick people test positive the authorities will certainly be able to contain the disease. Mr. Thaksin said there was no cause for panic and urged the media to wait for the test results before declaring an epidemic. Mr. Thaksin said the government had nothing to hide. "If there is proof that bird flu is already here, we have to tell the people. We cannot afford not to say what is happening. But since we have not yet received the test results, it would be crazy to come out and say we now have bird flu here," he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Royal pardon for two Dutch drug traffickers

Posted by hasekamp on 23 January 2004 at 19:14 PM
Two convicted drug traffickers from the Netherlands have received royal pardons at the request of the Dutch government, marking the end of a five-day state visit by Queen Beatrix. The Thai foreign Minister said yesterday His Majesty the King pardoned Piedro Ruijzing and George Ofosuhene, both serving eight-year terms. Court verdicts on the appeals of three other Dutch drug offenders serving life terms will be speeded up. The two countries will later establish a treaty allowing prisoners to serve out part of their sentences at home. Dutch newspapers emphasize that this will not automatically mean that convicted Dutch criminals will be freed. It just means that a request will be considered. It is expected that the Thai government will not grant requests regarding convicts that have not yet been jailed in Thailand for eight years. In the case of Dutch drug criminals "serving their sentences home" will simply mean that they will be set free as soon as they set foot on Dutch soil. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Year of the Monkey

Posted by hasekamp on 22 January 2004 at 19:42 PM
Today is Chinese New Year, and in many places in Thailand ?especially in Chinatown in Bangkok and in Phuket Town- many celebrations will be held to welcome the Year of the Monkey.
Bangkok?s Dusit Zoo announced that it had successfully bred a rare golden tamarin monkey from a four year-old female. Golden tamarins were almost extinct, just a few years ago. Only a few hundred of them were left in the Brazilian forest. Only thanks to a collective action of environmentalists and the world association of zoos the golden tamarin could be saved through a breeding program. The tamarins, born in zoos all over the world, were freed in the Brazilian forest. Today several thousands of them are living in the wild again. The situation still is fragile.
Dusit Zoo considers the birth of a golden tamarin as an "achievement" for the Year of the Monkey. The mother, who comes from Brazil, gave birth on 12 January after a 145-day pregnancy. Zoo officials have not yet been able to determine the gender of the baby tamarin, as the mother has not allowed anyone near it. Tamarin monkeys are considered to be some of the most beautiful monkeys in the world. As said, their situation is far from good, but better than five years ago. Thailand has never before successfully bred one in captivity. (Sources: Hasekamp Net, for tamarins, and Thai News Agency, for Dusit zoo)


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EU also optimistic about bird flu

Posted by hasekamp on 22 January 2004 at 19:42 PM
The European Union Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner, David Byrne, who is visiting Thailand, said that he agreed with Thai authorities that there is no evidence of any bird flu in Thailand. Mr. Byrne also praised Thai officials for taking great efforts to deal with problems relating to poultry. At the start of his six-day official visit to Thailand on Monday, Mr. Byrne met Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and other senior officials, and said he was assured that Thailand was maintaining a high state of vigilance. He also said that EU authorities were satisfied that there is no evidence of any bird flu in Thailand. Therefore it is unlikely that the EU will take action on poultry imports from Thailand, but the EU will keep a close watch on the situation. Thailand raises about 1.1 billion chickens per year.
Nevertheless chicken dishes have been withdrawn from the patient menu at a leading private hospital in Bangkok, despite the fact that the hospital admits that Thai chicken products are safe.
The deputy director of Bangkok Hospital said that the hospital was avoiding chicken products in defense to customer fears over the safety of chicken and eggs, following the outbreak of bird flu among chicken flocks in a number of Asian countries. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Details of visit Dutch Queen

Posted by hasekamp on 20 January 2004 at 23:12 PM
Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and His Royal Highness Prince Willem Alexander will visit Thailand for a five-day State visit, which augurs well for celebrations on the 400th anniversary of the friendly relations between the two countries in 2004. The Dutch royalty was greeted yesterday by Their Majesties King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit, amidst gun salutes and rows of guards of honor. After a brief welcoming ceremony, Their Majesties the King and Queen accompanied the royal guests to central Bangkok, to receive the Key to the City from the Governor of Bangkok. Her Majesty Queen Beatrix and HRH the Prince of Orange began their stay by sightseeing the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in the Grand Palace, where they also will be residing. In the evening, Their Majesties the King and Queen hosted a dinner for the royal visitors at the Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall in the Grand Palace. In her speech Queen Beatrix ?among other things- praised the stability of the Thai country and its Monarchy.
On Tuesday (Jan 20), the royal guests will grant audiences to the Prime Minister, the President of Parliament and the President of the Supreme Court respectively. In the afternoon they will visit the old site of Dutch businesses, in the old capital of Ayutthaya, and the historical park in the province. The visiting royalty will also observe the operation of Bangkok?s sky trains, as well as the underground service, soon to be open to the public.
On Wednesday (Jan 21), Her Majesty Queen Beatrix and the Crown Prince will lay wreaths at war memorials in Kanchanaburi Province and visit the museum of the Death Railway. In the evening the Government will hold a garden party in honor of the royal guests at Government House. Prime Minister THAKSIN SHINAWATRA will on this occasion present them with commemorative coins, issued to mark the four-century old Thai-Dutch relations.
On Thursday (Jan 22), Her Majesty Queen Beatrix will observe occupational training for women inmates in Nonthaburi Province. Her Majesty will later participate in a technical discussion at the Netherlands Embassy. Meanwhile, His Royal Highness Prince Willem Alexander will call a meeting of Dutch business executives here. The Dutch royalty will bid farewell to Their Majesties the King and Queen at Chitralada Villa in the afternoon, before leaving for the Northern Province of Chiang Rai.
On Friday (Jan 23) Her Majesty Queen Beatrix and the Crown Prince are scheduled to observe several royal development projects, such as crop substitution for opium, paper pulp production and silk weaving. They will on the same day proceed to Sukhothai Province in central Thailand, to visit a national museum and a historical park, before departing for The Hague.
Her Majesty Queen Beatrix has visited Thailand twice before, but the current visit is the first since she was inaugurated as Queen in 1980. Thailand and the Netherlands have been significant trade partners for many years. Dutch investment altogether holds one of the five largest foreign stakes in this country, with about 120 Dutch companies doing businesses here. Apart from trade, the two countries have also been engaging in educational and scientific cooperation. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Dutch Queen visits Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 19 January 2004 at 19:20 PM
Today Dutch Queen Beatrix has started a five-day official visit to Thailand. She arrived this morning, accompanied by her son Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, at Don Muang airport. Her last stop was Singapore, where she has made a short visit in the past weekend.
At the airport she was welcomed by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej (whose name Dutch radio reporters appear not to be able to pronounce correctly). All over Bangkok portraits of Queen Beatrix have been placed.
The Netherlands government is eager to discuss a treaty according to which prisoners held in Thailand for drugs offenses, are able to do the rest of their jail term in the Netherlands. In practice this will mean that they are to be set free immediately, because in the Netherlands drugs offenses are punished very mildly. Thai authorities therefore have already announced that only a treaty according to which the first 6-8 years are worked out in a Tai prison is acceptable to them.
Whatever of this, a treaty of this kind will be one of the subjects to be discussed during the visit. We, being Dutch, will follow the highlights of this official visit on this page. (Source: several Dutch news media)


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WHO: No bird flu in Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 18 January 2004 at 17:41 PM
The World Health Organization has published a statement confirming that Thailand is free from bird flu. There have been no outbreaks or cases of bird flu in the country, until now. A representative of the WHO in Thailand announced the confirmation from World Health Organization, that, unlike some countries in Asia, Thailand has had no outbreak of bird flu as feared, and there have been no bird flu cases in the kingdom. However, concrete measures to prevent the animal disease would be continued. In response to the statement, the government has confirmed that Thai chickens are free from bird flu, saying that a large number of chickens that were reported ill have died of a respiratory illness and diarrhea, not Avian Influenza. Nevertheless the fear of bird flu in the region has prompted Singapore to suspend imports of live chickens from Thailand earlier this week. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Is the government covering up bird flu?

Posted by hasekamp on 18 January 2004 at 17:41 PM
If chickens and eggs are well cooked there is no need for anyone to fear contracting bird flu, the Food and Drug Administration said. This does not mean, however that the Thai government admits that the bird flue is in Thailand. The government still seems to be in the "investigating stage". It nevertheless tries to easy everybody concerned.
No evidence has come to light of the virus being passed to humans through eating food, said the FDA secretary-general. People in other countries had contracted bird flu by coming into direct contact with the (live) animal infected with the virus, he said. The virus can be destroyed when exposed to heat of 50-60 degrees Celsius for half an hour. Chickens have been dying by thousands, but the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry still insists that it has no connection with the bird flu. Consumer groups demanded the government reveal what is happening on poultry farms. The government should take action to contain any possible spread of the disease, just as it did to counter the Sars threat. Vets should also tell farmers what was happening, consumer groups say. A farmer said vets had declined to tell him what caused his chickens to fall ill. However: Farmers need a permit to transfer poultry and poultry raisers must count the animals on their farms and register by Jan 23. When chickens die on farms, samples of the dead animals' tissue must be sent for lab tests. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Gasohol becomes popular

Posted by hasekamp on 18 January 2004 at 17:41 PM
A few years ago His Majesty suggested in his birthday speech the use of "gasohol" (a motor fuel that consists of a mixture of gasoline and alcohol in 9:1 proportion) as an alternative for gasoline in cars. Motorists now appear to turn to use gasohol more and more, as sales in the domestic market are on the rise, thanks to the government's campaign on the promotion of alternative energy. Gasohol is about 0.50 baht cheaper than benzene. The Ministry of Energy is now launching a campaign, encouraging motorists to turn to use gasohol. The Energy Minister said earlier this week that he himself had turned to use gasohol, and had faced no problems with his car. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Wanted: elephant dentures!

Posted by hasekamp on 14 January 2004 at 19:21 PM
Mahouts from Surin are queuing to have dentures made for their elephants after an 80-year-old female elephant from Kanchanaburi was reported to have become the world's first elephant fitted with false teeth. Several members of the Thai Elephant Association had asked to make dentures for their elephants, after they had successfully been fitted for Morakot, an elephant that had lost most of its teeth. An estimated 10 per cent of elephants in Thailand have dental problems. Elephants can have different kinds of dental problems, so different dentures to suit them have to be invented.
Morakot's dentures were fitted on Monday. Two mahouts helped him insert the dentures in the drugged elephant. One sat on top of the elephant, guiding the dentures into place with a string tied around them. The other assisted from the ground. Within a few minutes after getting the false teeth, Morakot was able to eat bananas and grass as though it had natural teeth. The dentures are to be removed once a month to make sure everything is working properly. The inventor has contacted the Department of Intellectual Property & International Trade Litigation to patent the elephant dentures. We hope that he did not reveal too much to the press or to others, because that would destroy the novelty of the invention and therewith make patenting impossible! (Source: The Nation)


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Bird flu in Thailand?

Posted by hasekamp on 13 January 2004 at 19:27 PM
Poultry farmers yesterday accused the Livestock Department of hiding the fact that hundreds of poultry farms were under attack by the bird flu outbreak, which was killing millions of chickens in the central provinces. A farmer in Nakhon Pathom who lost about 10,000 chickens since the outbreak in November, said many of the dead chickens had symptoms similar to avian influenza, better known as bird flu. The chickens developed high temperature, suffered internal bleeding and died suddenly. Farmers have no idea how to handle it. The department, meanwhile, is not making clear what the disease is. The Livestock Department issued a clarification on Dec 16, stating that the outbreak affecting local poultry farms had nothing to do with bird flu. Bird flu, which first appeared in humans in May 1997, is the latest in a string of what are known as "Hong Kong flu". It appears and spreads especially fast in farms where large numbers of chickens are raised in densely packed conditions. A veterinarian of the Livestock Disease Control Bureau insisted that Thailand was still free of bird flu, even though the disease had swept through several Asian countries, including Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. Bangkok has imposed a ban on chicken shipments from these countries, he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Bad water in Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 13 January 2004 at 19:26 PM
Residents of Phuket Island can look forward to improved hygiene in food and water production by the end of this year, according to a report issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It has appeared that water is not up to standards since some time. More than 100 major establishments were tested between January 7 and 9, but only half passed the standards. Three drinking-water manufacturers, White, Chalong, and Peak, were discovered to be producing sub-standard drinking water. Each was fined 10,000 baht by the FDA. A Thalang water manufacturer was found to have been operating without a government license and the owner now faces a 30,000-baht fine, three years in jail, or both. All restaurants, factories, and organizations that have to deal with food and drink need to meet the standards. They will be prosecuted if they do not. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Now 39 baht for one US dollar

Posted by hasekamp on 12 January 2004 at 19:07 PM
The Thai economy is recovering fast or is the US economy weakening fast? Fact is that the Thai baht has already broken through 39 to one US dollar, and is expected to continue to strengthen against the US currency in the same direction of other currencies, according to a senior money dealer. He said the dollar was expected to weaken further in an anticipation that the US government would continue to adopt the weak dollar policy. The baht may touch 37 to the dollar mark this year. Thai exporters seem to be prepared already, since the strengthening of the baht compared to the dollar is not an unusual phenomenon given Thailand's strong economic growth now. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Martial law in the deep south

Posted by hasekamp on 12 January 2004 at 19:07 PM
There have been serious attacks and other violations in the deep south of Thailand for some time now. We have not yet reported about it so far. Now the situation is becoming more tense by the day:
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has defended the presence of martial law in the deep South, saying it is necessary to tackle the people who masterminded the attacks that left six officials dead. His comments came after criticism that resort to martial law could have adverse impacts on investment and tourism. The government, however, does not impose a curfew or declare an emergency state there. Martial law has been imposed, which will allow officials to work more efficiently. Martial law, which is imposed in certain districts in Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala, allows the military to search premises and detain suspect without a court warrant. Mr Thaksin said the situation in the region should return to normal as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the army will broadcast radio programmes in Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani to seek public support for soldiers' anti-terrorist missions there. A thousand radios will be given away. Several military helicopters released hundreds of leaflets over Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala yesterday. The leaflets advise people to live their lives normally but to keep their ID cards and vehicle registration papers with them. (Source: the Bangkok Post)


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Crackdown on prostitution

Posted by hasekamp on 8 January 2004 at 20:04 PM
Police are focusing on the northern part of the country and Bangkok in their crackdown on prostitution. It has not been announced as such (so far) but this might be the start of a new "war" of the Thaksin government. A lot of time has been spent on talking about commercial sex operations in the capital and the northern provinces. The Anti Money-Laundering Office (AMLO) had already confiscated more than 20 million baht from suspects accused of running commercial sex services in Chiang Rai. Further action is being taken. The immigration police will at the same time crack down on foreigners entering the country in order to enter the flesh trade. However, the crackdown will focus more on the operators of sex businesses than prostitutes. If operators of suspect houses are found to hire alien females as prostitutes, their venues will be shut down within three days. Officials will keep close watch on various types of entertainment venues, like karaoke lounges, restaurants and massage parlors. (Source: The Nation)


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Cheap flight from Bangkok to Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 8 January 2004 at 20:04 PM
Thai Airways International (THAI) is offering a limited number of seats on its Phuket-Bangkok route at the low price of 3,400 baht return or 1,700 baht one-way. The seats are being allocated on a first-come-first-served basis, and are most likely to be awarded to people paying for and collecting their tickets at least 48 hours in advance of a flight. They are neither transferable nor refundable. A spokesman from THAI said that the precise number of low-price tickets on each flight varies, but that as many as 30 may be available on any one flight. The promotion is part of the airline's preparation for the launch of its a low-cost airline on April 1, and therefore -logically- end on 31 March. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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King asks Thais to be united

Posted by hasekamp on 6 January 2004 at 11:55 AM
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej delivered his New Year address to the nation, advising all Thais to be united, and continue to think good and do good things with prudence in the New Year. His Majesty the King said in the address that the Thai kingdom experienced many good things, which were the country's honor and should be appreciated. Among the good things are the kingdom's successful host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Meetings in October (APEC 2003), and achievement in bringing the Thai economy out of its worst crisis, taking place in mid 1997 and consequent difficulties. All the Thai people should therefore be happy and pleased with the good things in the year, which had just ended, when the Thai kingdom was trusted and recognized with prestige and honor by the international community, he stated. The beloved Thai monarch advised all Thais to continue to be united and prudent, using their abilities to help themselves, and work together to get through problems, which may take place.
His Majesty also presented his New Year greeting card to all Thais (as we have linked to in a former posting). His Majesty the King designed the computer graphics New Year's card himself. It states "unity is the powerful force to stabilize the Thai kingdom". (We encountered this New Year's speech a few days late on the Internet). (Source: Thai News Agency)


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New Butterfly Park on Children's Day

Posted by hasekamp on 5 January 2004 at 10:01 AM
Bangkok is to get its very own Butterfly Park, with plans to create an aviary, orchid park and bamboo park to give Thai children an opportunity to study nature.
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) announced the plans. The Butterfly Park would be opened in the old Railway Park on January 10th, to mark National Children?s Day. Entry to the 2,000 square meter park will be free, and the BMA hopes that visitors will be able to study the ecology and life cycles of Thailand?s many species of butterflies and flies. BMA is also preparing to open a transport park on the same day, intended to give children a chance to learn about traffic rules. In the near future the BMA also hopes to be able to open a tropical aviary, a four-region orchid park, and a bamboo park. All of these parks will be located in three adjacent areas of parkland in north Bangkok. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Party for strays

Posted by hasekamp on 5 January 2004 at 10:00 AM
A New Year's party for stray dogs was organized by the Foundation for Stray Dogs. The strays were the guests of honor. The foundation chairman said the event was to boost public awareness about stray dogs and gather support for the foundation. The party included an eating contest between household dogs and strays. The strays won, of course!
The organization treats strays seeking shelter at city temples. It vaccinates them for rabies, treats skin diseases, and neuters dogs. They focus on temple dogs, which sadly is necessary. We have seen strays in Temples that could hardly be looked at without shivering. We had hoped and, frankly, expected, that Monks would take better care of "man's best friend", but this seems not (always) be the case.
Street dogs tend to be cared for by people in the community. We often see people with food coming to places where strays spend the nights.
The foundation had treated more than 1,600 dogs. Most were sent back to where they came from, except for dogs in need of rehabilitation. The foundation said it opposed city hall's idea of sending strays to Sa Kaeo province, saying the place has become a kind of "concentration camp" for dogs. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Total toll for New Year: 857 dead and 42,179 wounded

Posted by hasekamp on 5 January 2004 at 9:59 AM
A total of 857 deaths and 42,179 injuries were caused by road accidents during the weeklong New Year holiday, the Public Health Ministry said yesterday. This is including last weekend. So the figures have risen substantially in the weekend (see our former posting). The figures, obtained from hospitals and emergency units throughout the country from Dec 27, 2003 to Jan 3, showed that as many as 10,856 people were hospitalized due to road injuries. The Health Ministry said 32,699 cases, or 78%, of the injuries and 857 deaths involved motorcyclists. Although the incidence of death and injuries were high, the national campaign on accident prevention has raised awareness among the general public, according to a police spokesman. The permanent health secretary, said: "We have to face the fact that more needs to be done to curb road accidents." This, of course, is very true! We, at Hasekamp Net, have made the suggestion, in our former posting, of confronting the public on TV with the results of drunk or otherwise not careful driving. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New Year's Card from HM the King

Posted by hasekamp on 3 January 2004 at 11:36 AM
Traditionally His Majesty the King publishes a New Year's card on the Internet. We from Hasekamp Net send His Majesty and his family all our best wishes for 2004, although we modestly have to suppose that His Majesty is not a frequent visitor of our site!


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Road slaughter around New Year

Posted by hasekamp on 2 January 2004 at 11:03 AM
Thai motorists never seem to learn that drinking ?the usual cause for many road accidents- and driving do not combine. This year the slaughter on the Thai roads reached the international press. We had to hear the first numbers on Dutch radio. This is what the Thai press writes:
A total of 148 people were killed and 5,333 others were injured on the roads on New Year's Eve, up 90% on the previous year. The prime minister says lenient traffic police are to blame. Last year 78 people died on the roads on New Year's Eve. We find it nonsense to blame the police. The motorists themselves, and nobody else, are to blame!
Since Dec 29, New Year road accidents have killed 291 people and injured 10,802, according to the government's road safety war room. On Dec 31 alone, 4,110 road accidents were reported including eight serious ones. The accidents killed one person in Bangkok and 147 people in other provinces. In Bangkok, 96 people were injured while 5,237 in other provinces were hurt. The figure is 6% higher compared to Dec 31, 2002. Motorcycles were involved in 67% of the accidents and 37% of the deaths involved people aged 21-30. Thirty-two per cent were not wearing crash helmets. They too are to blame for their own death. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said road safety campaigns failed to cut New Year road accidents because traffic police were too lenient. We believe that hard TV campaigns, including pictures of victims, might help. This does help in our country to reduce the number of accidents caused by fireworks on New Years' Eve. The coming weekend, in which many people are to return to their homes in the provinces, has still to follow. Then the situation on the roads will be back to normal until Songkran (13 April). (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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