BANGKOK: Thailand’s hospital-bound King Bhumibol Adulyadej has received treatment for a “severe” blood infection, the palace said, the latest update on the ailing health of the world’s longest-reigning monarch.
The 88-year-old is deeply revered by many in Thailand and his frail health is a matter of great public concern.
He has spent most of the past two years in a Bangkok hospital for a series of ailments, including bacterial infections, breathing difficulties, heart problems and hydrocephalus—a build-up of cerebrospinal fluid often referred to as “water on the brain.”
He has not been seen in public for nearly a year, though the palace releases regular updates on his health.
The latest statement issued by the Royal Household Bureau on Friday night said blood tests revealed the king was suffering from a “severe infection.”
“On August 31, 2016 his heartbeat was fast and he had very thick mucus. A test result of the mucus and blood indicated a severe infection,” the statement said.
An x-ray also revealed the monarch had fluid in his lungs, which a treatment helped to reduce, according to the bureau.
The monarch’s low blood pressure and a fever have since improved and his medical team is “continuously watching the symptoms closely,” the statement added.
Bhumibol’s reign has spanned seven tumultuous decades and the monarch is seen as a unifying force in a kingdom torn apart by politics.
He is also shielded by one of the world’s strictest royal defamation laws, which has seen scores of Thais thrown behind bars for criticizing the monarchy.
Analysts say anxiety over the end of Bhumibol’s reign has aggravated the past decade of political conflict, as elites wrestle for influence.
But open discussion of his legacy and the future of the institution is all but impossible because of the lese majeste law.
Use of the law has surged in the last two years since ultra-royalist generals seized power in a coup.