“The government is ready to [provide] support with medicines, vaccines and ATK test kits, as requested by Phuket Province [the provincial government],” Mr Supattanapong told a meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday afternoon (Sept 10).
“Especially the materials and equipment that will be used in the operation to increase the number of hospital beds for red-coded patients, yellow-coded patients and to build more field hospitals to give people peace of mind and confidence in the readiness of medical personnel and the public health system of Phuket,” he said.
“The important thing that the government hopes is that the Phuket Sandbox project must bring smiles to the people of Phuket because the charm of Phuket, besides having beautiful attractions, also means the charm of the Phuket people in being a good host. It’s good to welcome tourists as well,” he added.
Mr Supattanapong continued, “The important thing in implementing the Phuket Sandbox project is that it must benefit the people in the area. Disease prevention and control guidelines must ensure that people in the area are not worried, but must have peace of mind and people are alert. participate in revitalizing the economy and tourism, coupled with effective disease prevention and control [measures].
“The main goal is to reduce the number of deaths from COVID-19,” Mr Supattanapong said, on the same day that Phuket marked its worst number of fatalities since the pandemic began. Phuket has suffered 17 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in just the past seven days.
Also present in Phuket yesterday was Itthipol Khunpluem, Minister of Culture. “After this, the number of infected people will be tracked by the reporting of details in each district,” he said.
The tracking of infections will help “to plan for disease prevention and control by the government’s plan to open the area for tourism, focusing on creating a balance of economic and public health at the same time,” Mr Itthipol added.
In reporting the COVID situation on the island, Phuket Provincial Public Health Office (PPHO) Chief Kusak Kukiattikoon said that Phuket was experiencing infections in all three districts across the island (Muang, Kathu and Thalang).
He also reported a cluster of infections identified at a large shopping mall, previously not reported by Phuket officials.
Dr Kusak reported that hospital bed availability for all types of patients had fallen to 18.89%, but that the provincial officials had increased the number of “Community Isolation” and “Hospitel” quarantine venues, where ‘green-coded patients’, suffering little to no signs of infection are monitored after testing positive for COVID-19.
Dr Kusak continued by explaining that the third-dose vaccine ‘booster shots’ were being administered to the higher at-risk groups of people, and cited all the measures currently in force to help prevent the spread of infections across Phuket.
Of note, Dr Kusak pointed out that ‘Bubble and Seal’ operations were in effect at workers camps and workplaces deemed to be at-risk although no infections had been found.
In addition to enforcing screening measures for people entering Phuket and measures to reduce risk activities across the island, officials were considering “closing slum areas where outbreaks are found and there is the chance for infections to spread quickly”.
According to the report by the Phuket office of the Public relations Department (PR Phuket), specifically not mentioned at the high-powered meeting yesterday were the critical issues raised on Friday by Phuket tourism figures, namely boutique hotels being forced to close, the effect of the alcohol ban in restaurants and the ongoing suffering of Patong entertainment venue operators.
The issues were presented to three advisors to Deputy PM Supattanapong in the same meeting room at Phuket Provincial Hall literally 24 hours earlier.
At the meeting chaired by Deputy PM Supattanapong yesterday, representing Phuket were Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew, Phuket Vice Governors Phichet Panaphong and Vikrom Jakthee, Deputy Commissioner of Provincial Police Region 8 Maj Gen Saksira Phuak-am, Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation (PPAO, or OrBorJor) President Rewat Areerob, along with PPHO Chief Dr Kusak and Vachira Phuket Hospital Director Dr Chalermpong Sukontapol.