Thailand King Bhumibol Adulyadej's medical condition has 'overall not yet stabilised', says palace statement

Well-wishers hold pictures of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej as they pray for him at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand on Oct 12, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK - The condition of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 88, remains unstable, according to an official statement released on Wednesday (Oct 12) night amid mounting concerns about the health of the world's longest reigning monarch.

The latest update, which came three days after an uncharacteristically ominous-sounding statement by the Royal Household Bureau, said the King's blood pressure was found to be lower on Tuesday, and his pulse faster.

"The result of the blood test showed that there was an infection, and his liver was not in a regular condition", the statement said. Hence doctors at Bangkok's Siriraj Hospital - where he has spent most of the year - have given him antibiotics, put him on ventilator, and also on continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT).

CRRT is usually given to critically ill patients.

Wednesday's statement came after a previous one on Sunday evening said the King's condition remained unstable after he underwent dialysis.

Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha fuelled speculation when he abruptly cut short a trip to Chonburi province to return to Bangkok. Local media reports said all the King's children, including heir apparent Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, turned up at Siriraj Hospital yesterday. The Crown Prince also cancelled an appearance at a university graduation ceremony scheduled for later in October.

A government spokesman however, told reporters that the prime minister had returned to Bangkok to prepare for an audience with the Crown Prince "for a routine presentation on the government's work in progress", according to remarks distributed by the prime minister's office.

The King has battled a series of ailments, including lung infection, in recent years and has not been seen in public since January.

Of late, the Royal Household Bureau has increased the frequency of announcements bearing updates on his health. These usually declared an improvement after he received a particular treatment.

Most Thais - who have lived through a revolving door of governments regularly upended by military coups - have known only one king all their lives.

Anxious Thais have been turning to temples as well as online to offer get-well wishes for the King.

On Tuesday, in response to a social media drive, many turned out in pink - considered an auspicious colour for King Bhumibol, who is regarded as a demigod in the country and often referred to as the father of the nation.

Thai stocks, which have taken a battering since Monday, slid further into negative territory. Thailand's benchmark SET Index, which shed 3.15 per cent on Monday and 1.02 per cent on Tuesday, plunged by more than 6 per cent after lunchtime on Wednesday but recovered to a 2.5 per cent drop at the close of trading.

News about the royal family is tightly controlled in Asean's second-largest economy, where insults or defamatory comments against the king, queen, heir apparent and regent earn not just social disapproval but also a possible jail sentence of up to 15 years on each count.

Since the military took power through a 2014 coup, the number of people prosecuted for lese majeste has soared.

No other member of the Thai royal family commands the same level of influence and affection as King Bhumibol.

Uncertainty over the impending transition has given a sharp edge to the country's deepening political divisions, which have pitted Bangkok elites against an emerging middle class which has constantly voted in politicians accused by the former of being corrupt and populist.

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