During a live video broadcast led by Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew this morning (Apr 14), Patong Hospital Director Dr Muenphrae Boonlom confirmed that the current number of confirmed cases stood at 98 people infected.
“At this stage, 98 cases have been confirmed as infected, but they all have only light symptoms,” said Dr Muenphrae, was Acting Chief of the Phuket Provincial Public Health Office (PPHO) until the new PPHO Chief Dr Kusak Kukiattikoon arrived in Phuket on Mar 8.
“For those who are high-risk by having close contact with the cases, please give good cooperation with medical staff. If they ask you to quarantine, please do so,” she added.
“Those who want to be tested must really have been involved in risk activities with those who have been confirmed positive. You can come to take a test at every hospital on the island. All tests are free at government hospitals, but there may be some cost at the private hospitals,” Dr Muenphrae said.
Dr Chalermpong Sakontapol, Director of Vachira Phuket Hospital, the main government hospital on the island, this morning repeated that more vaccine doses were on their way to resume the mass-vaccination efforts in the hope of reopening the island to international tourists on July 1.
“I expect that this month we will receive 100,000 more doses of the Sinovac vaccine, which will be provided as the second jab for the first 100,000 people vaccinated,” he said.
“In May, we will receive 200,000 doses of Sinovac for the second 100,000 people. In June, we will receive 200,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine for the third 100,000 people,” he added.
“For now, we have about 6,000 doses in store, which will be provided to monks and those who are sensitive with chronic diseases,” he noted.
“More vaccine doses will come later for us to vaccinate 70% of the people on the island,” Dr Chalermpong added.
TOP 5 THINGS TO KNOW
Governor Narong explained he saw a post on Facebook presenting a summary by Dr Prasit Watanapa, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, which he believed highlighted the top five things people should know about the current outbreak.
“First, for this outbreak, it is easy to be infected and not show any symptoms, and the virus can spread far,” Governor Narong said.
Governor Narong noted that the post marked, “There is no need to think about which type of virus or stain.”
Dr Chalermpong disagreed.
“I think we need to think about the type of virus. As right now we are facing the English type [B117], which can spread faster than the previous Chinese one,” he said.
Of note, one report by the PPHO confirmed that one Thai man (Case 79) had become infected after sitting down to eat with one person who had contracted the virus in Bangkok. Caes 79 was confirmed as infected six days later.
Noting Dr Chalermpong’s response, Governor Narong continued, “Vaccine can’t protect you from infection, but lighten the symptoms."
Dr Chalermpong responded, “This is kind of true. For the Sinovac vaccine, it can only provide 50-60% protection from the virus, but it is 80% for alleviating serious symptoms, and is 100% effective in preventing death from the virus."
Governor Narong continued, "4. Those who are infected can get well by themselves if they are healthy.”
Dr Chalermpong again responded: “This is partly true. You can get well by yourselves, but if you are heavily infected, you may need medication to assist your respiratory system.”
Concluding with the post’s fifth point, Governor Narong noted, “5. Wear a face mask, keep social distancing and regularly cleanse your hands, because most people who are infected are unaware that they are presenting the risk of infecting other people.”
“That’s certainly true,” Dr Chalermpong agreed.
TOURISM TAKES A HIT
Calling in to join the broadcast press conference this morning was Phuket Tourist Association President Bhummikitti Raktaengam, who reported the effect the current outbreak has had on Phuket’s tourism industry so far.
“From our research [by the PTA], 15% of tourists had cancelled their trip to Phuket, while 30% of tourists only postponed their trip to June or July,” Mr Bhummikitti said.
"Compared with April last year, this year is much better than last year," he added.
Of note, Phuket went into a two-week “tambon lockdown” on Apr 13 last year, under which people were not permitted to leave their subdistrict without express, urgent matters to attend to.
Phuket was the only province in the country where a “tambon lockdown” was enforced, though people on Koh Lanta were also not permitted to leave their district during their lockdown.
"Yesterday, I went to investigate areas on the island and found that it was quiet in the city but crowded at tourist attractions like Promthep Cape," Mr Bhummikitti said.
However, Dr Chayanon Pucharoen, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies at PSU Phuket’s Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism, pointed out the drastic impact the current outbreak has had on the island’s ability to generate income for the resident population.
“in the best case, we expect that B23 billion in income will be generated in April. The income can be considered as B5,162 per registered capita,” he said.
“But as a result of the outbreak, we have to calculate the new number, as 45% of tourists have changed their trips. So it’s only B2,800 per registered capita. The number is nearer the poverty line,” he added.
Meanwhile, the PPHO has issued a warning for all people who were on AirAsia flight FD 3011, from Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok to Phuket on Apr 7 that they may be at risk of being infected.
The warning noted that people seated in the vicinity of seats 8-12 “might be at high risk”, the warning noted.
The warning also noted that people near seats 4-8 on AirAsia flight FD 3446, from Chiang Mai to Don Mueang International Airport, on Apr 3, may also be at risk of infection.
“May you take a risk assessment at a convenient public service near your home,” the warning said.
The PPHO today released a revised map showing the spread of 98 infections across the island.
According to the report, Cherng Talay is the only subdistricts on the island that remain free from any COVID-19 infections.
The map shows the number of infections in each subdistrict in Phuket as follows:
- Patong - 12 cases
- Kathu - 12
- Kamala - 11
- Wichit - 13
- Chalong - 5
- Karon 3
- Rawai 9
- Talad Yai Phuket Town - 5
- Talad Neua Phuket Town - 2
- Rassada - 7
- Kow Kaew - 5
- Srisoonthorn - 2
- Pa Khlok 1
- Thepkrasattri - 5
- Sakhu - 5
- Mai Khao - 1
- Cherng Talay - 0