Present for the broadcast press conference were Phuket Public Health Office (PPHO) Chief Dr Kusak Kukiattikoon and Vachira Phuket Hospital Director Dr Chalermpong Sukontapol.
All three ‒ Governor Narong, Dr Kusak and Dr Chalermpong ‒ are key figures on Phuket’s Communicable Disease Committee, which under the extended state of emergency is responsible for all affairs in Phuket related to COVID-19.
Dr Kusak opened his address by noting, “The infection situation in Phuket is getting better. Since May 15, we have had less than 10 new cases per day, but this week we have had less than five cases.
“Right now, we have had 676 cases in Phuket so far [since Apr 3], and only 45 cases are now receiving medical treatment at hospitals,” he said.
However, Dr Kusak did admit, “Three cases have died [since Apr 3].”
Dr Kusak then broke the news that a foreigner had tested positive for COVID-19 on the 13th day of stay at a local quarantine venue in Phuket.
“The new case yesterday was a foreigner who had been staying in a local quarantine place for 13 days, and just tested positive yesterday,” Dr Kusak confirmed.
Dr Kusak did not elaborate on which venue the infection occurred at, what is being done to prevent further infections at the unnamed venue, what action is being taken to identify how the foreigner came to be infected on the last day of stay in quarantine or what contact tracing is being conducted.
However, he did recognise that the “cluster” related to the infected foreigner had already “over”.
“For local quarantine places for high-risk people, before this we had 610 rooms, but at this stage, we have only 227 rooms available. Now 194 people are in quarantine rooms,” he said.
“However, the situation is better now, we still have to ask for your cooperation to wear face masks, wash your hands and keep social distancing,” he added.
“Staff from the PPHO, Vachira Phuket Hospital and the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation [PPAO, or OrBorJor] went to conduct proactive screening once a week,” Dr Kusakl continued.
“In May, we conducted 23 rounds of screening and tested 4,308 people, and found 11 infected cases. In June, [so far] we have conducted three rounds [of screening] and tested 967 people, and found four infected cases,” he said.
JABS FOR FOREIGNERS
Dr Chalermpong moved the press conference to place focus on the vaccination of foreigners on the island.
“For foreigners and migrant workers, I have to say we value everyone. After finishing the first round on June 3-5, the vaccinations will resume in early July. If the vaccination of Thai people can be finished earlier than we plan, the vaccination [of foreigners] will be moved to late June,” Dr Chalermpong said.
However, Dr Chalermpong did not explain that the June 3-5 vaccinations were for only foreigners in Phuket with permits who were registered for vaccination by their employers.
Dr Chalermpong did not mention anything about vaccination registration of Phuket expats who have not been issued work permits.
“For local people [sic] who have already registered, we will today receive 70,000 doses of Sinovac vaccine, and the website [‘Phuket Must Win’, www.ภูเก็ตต้องชนะ.com] will also be open for you to choose the time and place to be vaccinated, from June 10 to 16,” Dr Chalermpong continued.
“The Ministry of Public Health has informed us that more [doses of the] AstraZeneca vaccine will arrive in Thailand [sic] about June 14 and arrive in Phuket about June 19. We will receive about 80,000 doses and start using those doses for vaccinations from June 26 to 30,” he added.
Dr Chalermpong confirmed that for the first time people in Phuket will have a choice of which of the two vaccines currently being provided by the government’s mass-vaccination campaign to receive.
“For elders who were unable to be vaccinated on June 7-9, you can make your booking on the website [‘Phuket Must Win’] for your vaccination,” he said.
“You can choose to have Sinovac or AstraZeneca. If you want Sinovac, you can get your first injection on June 10-16. If you want AstraZeneca, you will have to wait until June 26,” Dr Chalermpong added.
“Workers who have just returned to Phuket and who have already had their first injection in their home provinces can get their second injection in Phuket, but you have to register under your company to get it,” he noted.
JULY 1 CLARITY
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Phuket Office Director Nanthasiri Ronnasiri recognised the need for clarity on the conditions of what is required and the procedures to be enforced for forign tourists arriving in Phuket from July 1, as highlighted by Phuket Tourist Association President Bhummikitti Raktaengam last week, after the visit to Phuket by TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn.
Ms Nanthasiri explained that details about which countries foreigners will be allowed to arrive from, which vaccines will be accepted and what evidence to present as proof of vaccination, along with exactly which tests are to be carried out and which officers are to carry out the tests all still needed to be made clear.
“We will take this information [and questions] and meet with the prime minister again,” she said.