The Department of Disease Control of the Ministry of Public Health recognizes the importance of preventing and controlling the infectious disease, the flu. In Thailand, influenza occurs all year round, but during the rainy season cases are more common. In the last ten years, there have been around 30,000 – 50,000 cases reported each year with no less than 10 reported deaths, according to the epidemiological studies by the Bureau of Epidemiology. The report found that in the years 2012 and 2013, total cases numbered 54,580 with 2 deaths and 43,047 cases with zero deaths respectively.
However, in 2014, between Jan 1. and Oct. 26, reports cited 60,108 cases of influenza and a total of 60 deaths. This outbreak is believed to be faster and more virulent than in any other year, perhaps because without a major outbreak for some time, sick persons have become careless, thinking their flu is just a common cold and not expecting to become so sick. They delay visiting the doctor and their symptoms worsen, preventing prompt treatment. The flu outbreaks occur in crowded public places and especially in the rainy season, you’ll find an increase in infections.
Nowadays, surgical masks aren’t very popular since many people still cling to the old attitudes that those wearing masks are sick. They look frightful, unapproachable, contagious, and worth avoiding, even though in truth, those wearing masks are the ones who prevent disease. One could actuallysee them as public health caretakers because the face masks serve two benefits, that is to say, to both prevent spreading disease as well as catching it. All of the research by the World Health Organization has found that the wearing of facial masks can protect against, and reduce the spread of, up to nearly 80% of contaminated particulates. Not washing one’s hands before touching other objects (such as after a sneeze, pressing the elevator buttons, stair railings, handrails on the subway, or the hanging handles on buses) is one way of spreading illness unawares. Or, even if we aren’t sick ourselves, but come into contact with those contaminated respiratory fluids, when we rub our eyes, nose, or handle food, we can unwittingly catch the cold. For example if someone with a cold sneezes into their hands on a bus, and then touches the railings, if we then get on next, without knowing the spot is contaminated, we’ll touch the same place where the person left their germs.
Being more conscious of wearing surgical masks is an easy way to prevent disease and keeps both ourselves and those around us safe, taking care of society as a whole.