WRITER: APINYA WIPATAYOTIN
Owners of properties who fail to get rid of mosquito larvae might face jail terms of up to three years and/or have to pay a fine of up to 25,000 baht, according to Dr Sukhum Kanchanapimai, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Public Health.
Dr Sukhum told the media yesterday that the ministry plans to launch a campaign to clear sources of larvae every Friday and make use of the 1992 Public Health Act to force the public to help prevent dengue outbreaks.
The ministry claims mosquito breeding sources violate the law.
The move comes after the ministry officially announced a national dengue "outbreak" yesterday after the number of deaths and patients admitted with dengue exceeded the "acceptable level".
According to the definition of a disease outbreak, the number of patients must be above the five-year median.
"We could say that it has a reached the stage of an outbreak right now," said Dr Preecha Prempree, deputy chief of the Department of Disease.
The department yesterday revealed that the number of dengue fever patients has almost doubled because of a failure to control larvae sources.
According to the department, the reported number of dengue fever cases between Jan 1 to June 11 stood at 28,785, which is 1.5 times higher than in the same period of last year.
The death toll has also reached 43 or 0.15% of the total number of patients.
The department has also set the normal standard for dengue at 0.1 per 100 population and this year's stat has increased to 0.6 compared with 0.14 last year.
It is expected that a number of patients this year could climb to 100,000 cases.
According to the department's latest survey, a major source of larvae -- the main culprit of dengue are crowded communities and temples which hold reservoirs of water.
In a bid to control the disease, the Ministry of Public Health and another eight agencies yesterday signed an environmental management pact for mosquito control, which will become effective in 2019-2023.
He said the rise of dengue fever is also plaguing neighbouring countries in The Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
"The dengue fever outbreak is not only confined to Thailand. Seven countries surrounding Thailand have also seen a rise in the number of dengue cases," said Dr Preecha.