May 12, 2009 / 5:42 AM / 9 years ago

Thailand says two flu patients visited Mexico

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Two Thais who returned from Mexico have been confirmed with H1N1 flu but have recovered from the virus, Health Minister Witthaya Kaewparadai said on Tuesday.

Eight other Thais who were in contact with the two infected people were released after being quarantined for a week and show no signs of the virus, he said.

“We have found two confirmed cases of the flu, which was contracted abroad. They have recovered,” Witthaya told a news conference.

He gave no details of the two patients and did not say when or where they had traveled in Mexico, the epicenter of the outbreak also known as swine flu.

The World Health Organization has confirmed 4,379 infections worldwide, with the worst impact in North America, where 60 people have died, mostly in Mexico.

Despite the small number of cases to date in Asia, health experts say the region cannot afford to be complacent after bouts of SARS and bird flu in recent years.

Last week, health ministers from 13 Asian countries agreed in Bangkok to boost antiviral drug stockpiles and tighten surveillance against the virus.

The global spread of the virus has raised concerns about a possible pandemic, although scientists say this strain does not appear more deadly than seasonal flu.

Nevertheless, the impact of H1N1 on global travel has added to the gloom in Thailand’s tourist industry, which has already suffered a sharp drop in arrivals due to the global economic crisis and political unrest at home.

Reporting by Kittipong Soonprasert; Writing by Darren Schuettler; Editing by Alan Raybould and Dean Yates

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