NGO staff temporarily barred from Mae La refugee camp after H1N1 patient dies

  • Written by KIC News
  • Published in KIC

A refugee camp on the Thai-Myanmar border is under a partial quarantine following an H1N1 patient’s death on August 31. Aid workers and NGO staff are not allowed to enter or exit the Mae La camp at the moment, according to an announcement from local Thai authorities.

The Tha Song Yang district administrator issued the restriction, valid for 14 days, after the Mae Sot Hospital confirmed that an H1N1 patient from the camp passed away.

Saw Honesty, chair of the Mae La refugee camp, told KIC News on September 4 that the camp’s residents are still able to come and go despite the restriction on NGO staff, however.

“NGOs cannot enter the camp after the district administrator released the announcement. But officials from the camp have not issued any restrictions. People are entering and leaving,” he said.

Located 60 kilometres north of Mae Sot, Thailand, the Mae La refugee camp is home to around 40,000 refugees. This was the first case of H1N1, or swine flu, to be officially confirmed at the camp.

The Thai authorities imposed restrictions on the nearby Mae Ra Ma Luang refugee camp in Mae Hong Son Province on August 23 after three H1N1 cases were confirmed. Officials from Malteser International said it is believed that the H1N1 virus spread from Myanmar, where an outbreak of the seasonal influenza strain was detected in mid-July.

H1N1, or “swine flu”, is a variety of the seasonal virus. In most cases, the infection is not severe, and requires only rest, and symptom relief. Symptoms of H1N1 can include a high fever over 38 degrees Celsius, a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, body aches, headache and fatigue.

To avoid spreading or contracting the disease, the World Health Organization advises frequent handwashing.