The news was announced this afternoon (Apr 9) in a notice posted on the official Ministry of Interior Phuket office COVID information Facebook page, Phuketanticovid19, which presents itself as the “Official COVID-19 Information Center Phuket”.
Mobile testing units will be stationed on Bangla Rd, Patong, and be open to conduct free COVID tests from 9am to 4pm from Sunday (Apr 11) through Tuesday next week (Apr 13), said the notice.
As a form of public service, the mobile testing units will also be open to conducting free tests for any travellers who happened to visit Bangla Rd on Apr 2-3, the notice added.
Any entertainment workers on Bangla Rd will also be allowed to have free COVID tests, the notice said.
However, following the recent rise in COVID infections on the island, all pubs and bars in Phuket, including those along Bangla Rd, have been ordered closed until Apr 18. Hence, no entertainment workers will be present at their place of work while the free tests are available, including venues along Bangla Rd.
The order for all pubs and bars in Phuket to close until Apr 18 was issued yesterday, and came into effect today (Apr 9).
The notice today specifically mentioned that people who attended the Kolour Beachside parties at the Shelter Phuket Dance & Night Club in Patong on Apr 2, at Cafe Del Mar Phuket in Kamala on Apr 3, and at the Illuzion nightclub on Bangla Rd, Patong, and at the Shelter nightclub, also in Patong, on Apr 3 can receive the free COVID tests.
Concerns that COVID may have been spread throughout the parties were initially raised by the party organisers Kolour Beachside after it was brought to their attention that one of the people at the events had been confirmed as infected.
The call for the partygoers to present themselves for COVID tests follows eight new infections being confirmed in Phuket on Wednesday (Apr 7), the first new infections for 103 days.
The Phuket Provincial Public Health Office (PPHO) today confirmed that the number of confirmed infections on the island had grown to 11, including a Navy serviceman who attended one of the parties. His wife and 9-year-old son were today also confirmed as infected.
Of note, the free COVID tests are to be provided despite the provincial government “requesting” that all people who attended the parties present themselves at their nearest government hospital.
The notice did not elaborate on which government agency or private entity was paying for the free COVID tests.
Phuket Vice Governor Vikrom Jakthee on Wednesday night told reporters, “From now on, if we find any operators violating the control measures, we need to decisively take action on them.”
“We have arrested owners and ordered two venues to be closed for five years. We have also ordered many operators to close their venues for 15 days and one month,” he added.
However, officials have yet to confirm any legal action being taken against the party organisers or the venue operators for breach of provincial orders issued under the Emergency Decree to prevent the spread of COVID-19.