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Governor confirms Phuket Sandbox will continue

Governor confirms Phuket Sandbox will continue

PHUKET: As the number of local infections of COVID-19 continue to rise across the island, Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew has confirmed that the Phuket Sandbox scheme will continue.

COVID-19Coronavirushealthtourismeconomics
By The Phuket News

Tuesday 27 July 2021, 03:50PM


Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew has assured that the Phuket Sandbox scheme will continue, despite the rising number of infections on the island. Photo: PR Phuket

Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew has assured that the Phuket Sandbox scheme will continue, despite the rising number of infections on the island. Photo: PR Phuket

The assurance comes as the island yesterday marked 114 local infections in the past seven days ‒ easily exceeding the “90 infections in one week” limit set by the the Centre of COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) in Bangkok late last month as reason enough to start reviewing whether or not the Phuket Sandbox scheme should be halted.

“The Phuket Sandbox scheme is still continuing. The situation right now has not disturbed the opening [of Phuket to receiving fully vaccinated tourists without quarantine],” Governor Narong said during a live broadcast this morning (July 27).

“We think that the measures to be enforced will be able to control the outbreak,” he added, referring to a raft of new COVID prevention measures introduced in a new provincial order issued yesterday.

Phuket Provincial Public Health Office (PPHO) Chief Dr Kusak Kukiattikoon explained to the press last night the criteria set out for revising the Phuket Sandbox scheme as announced by Natapanu Nopakun, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Information and Deputy Spokesman of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, on June 22 as part of the CCSA’s national COVID-situation briefing.

“If there were 90 persons infected per week in Phuket, that would be a criteria for reconsideration of the scheme once it has started, or for any adjustments,” Mr Natapanu said last month.

“Also if all three districts in Phuket are affected, and in that more than six villages are affected, that would be another criteria,” he added.

“If there are COVID cases and there are no linkages found and no contact tracing is possible, that would be another criteria,” Mr Natapanu continued.

“Also, if the hospital bed capacity exceeds 80%, that would be another criteria,” he added.

“If the situation becomes worse in Phuket after the opening of the province on the 1st of July with these particular criteria, then it [the box scheme] would be reconsidered,” Mr Natapanu warned.

“Some of the reconsideration of the Phuket Sandbox scheme would be possibly to decrease the level of business activity or to conduct ‘Sealed Route’ travel, and also to have more hotel quarantine,” he added.

“Also as a worst-case scenario, they would have to halt the [Sandbox] scheme in Phuket,” Mr Natapanu said.

Dr Kusak explained last night, “If the situation meets all five criteria, we will start enforcing strict measures respectively as follows: 1. allowing them to travel only in the sealed routes; 2. cancelling the sealed routes and allowing them to stay only in hotel areas; 3. Allowing them to stay only in their rooms; and 4. Cancelling the sandbox scheme.”

“If we have 90 new cases in a week, but we are still able to handle the cases, we will just consider following the plan. We need to keep a balance between controlling the disease and economic recovery,” he added.

Governor Narong this morning noted, “The situation outside of the island is getting worse, so we need to take care and control our people to be safe.” 

However, he gave no indication that the requirements to enter Phuket will face further revisions after a slew of new measures tightening control over who may enter Phuket were rolled out last week.

Asked whether the measures to close the selected venues, all schools and Central Phuket shopping mall, among others, will reduce the number of new infections, Governor Narong said, “I would say this is not the first time for a situation like this. The number of cases goes up and down. We have learned from the past that closing places and locking down can reduce the number of cases, and right now we also have strict entry requirements.

“We have strict entry requirements for new arrivals which we think helps a lot for screening and protecting our people from infection from outside the province,” he added.

“For inside the island, we have clear measures. If we find any areas having many new cases of infection, we immediately send our medical staff to conduct proactive screening and take high-risk people into the local quarantine,” he said.

“This is necessary because we need to keep Phuket Sandbox going. We have reopened the island [to tourists] for only a little while and already received very good signs in terms of economic recovery,” he added.

“Today, we discussed disease control measures that may affect some businesses. I need to ask operators and local people for understanding and cooperation. We need to protect the benefits of the overall people on the island,”  Governor Narong said.

INFECTION SITUATION 

PPHO Chief Dr Kusak last night that the number of new infections was expected to remain high for the immediate future.

“In the coming week, I expect that the number of new cases will remain at 20-plus because one infected case can at the minimum infect five high-risk people. Right now, more than 440 high risk contacts are in local quarantine [LQ],” he said.

“We need to work quickly to have new infected cases entered into treatment and take high risk contacts into the local quarantine,” Dr Kusak continued.

“Right now, we have 450 rooms at LQ venues, and we are looking for about 150-200 more rooms for future high-risk contacts,” he added. 

‘BOOSTER JABS’

Dr Kusak also pointed out that his office is pushing to further protect the public from infection through third vaccination injections to help boost immunity to the virus.

“For the third booster vaccines [sic], the PPHO and Vachira Phuket Hospital have already filed a request to the Ministry of Public Health to ask for the doses of vaccine. We need to prioritise groups of people to receive the third injection as we have done before,” he said.

Dr Chalermpong Sukontapol, Director of Vachira Phuket Hospital, last night added, “We already provided a third dose of vaccine to medical staff last week. Next, [third] vaccine injections will be provided to frontline staff, including those who work in disease control and have contact with Sandbox arrivals.

“These groups of people will receive their third injection in early August. The general public will receive the [third injection] vaccine later,” he said.  

HOSPITAL BEDS

Dr Chalermpong said that the number of beds available in intensive-care units (ICUs) currently looked relatively healthy.

“Right now, we have 17 ICU rooms, and the number of beds occupied is not very high because our people have been vaccinated and have very low potential to become red-zone patients [sic],” he said.

Some 90% of the people in Phuket currently receiving treatment for COVID-19 infection were what Dr Chalermpong called “green-zone patients”.

“About 3-4% of patients are considered to be red-zone patients,” he added, without giving any specific figures for either category.

“At Vachira Phuket Hospital, we will increase the number of ICU rooms to 27. If combined with other hospitals, we will have about 50 ICU rooms on the island,” Dr Chalermpong said.

“We have about 200 normal rooms for isolation and group-patient rooms, and we can add an extra 100 rooms. At the field hospital at PSU [Prince of Songkla University Phuket campus in Kathu], we have 170 beds. Of those, 75 beds are occupied,” he continued.

“However, right now we have a lot of green-zone patients, so we need to prepare the PRU [ Phuket Rajabhat University in Rassada] as another field hospital with 70 beds in the first phase and a total of 195 beds in the second phase,” Dr Chalermpong said.

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Kurt | 30 July 2021 - 09:02:30

July 27, Phuket Sandbox will continue. July 29, Phuket Sandbox on a 2 week probation. Flip-flop, flip-flop. Great tactical manoeuvre to let the Phuket  tourist Sandbox scheme dry up by itself. Now no Phuket Official has to terminate this not bringing in money attempt, as it costs more than it brings in. No loose face.

Kurt | 28 July 2021 - 13:01:29

There it is , a realistic warming up of Sandbox stopping with measures 1-2-3-4. Can be 'flip-flopped' overnight while coming foreign tourist are on their flight to Phuket. But first a bit 'Green-' or 'Red' infected doings to calm down ourselves in Government administration, so we not need to panic :-) as we have now a lot of Green patients. Figures provided by Government ar...

kiwiian | 28 July 2021 - 10:50:52

Yesterday (27th July) there were 40 new cases 2 of which were Sandbox arrivals meaning once again, all others on the same flight will be 'allowed at their own expense of THB 3200 per day" to stay in ASQ for 2 weeks. Wow, what a vacation!

Dave_C | 27 July 2021 - 20:12:19

You said said 70% fully vaccinated for start up of sandbox and you started with 46% and you said maximum of 90 weekly infections for suspension (currently around 120)
Why should we believe anything else that you say ??

Espanol | 27 July 2021 - 19:00:28

 “If the situation meets all five criteria, we will start enforcing strict measures respectively as follows:

 

1. allowing them to travel only in the sealed routes;

2. cancelling the sealed routes and allowing them to stay only in hotel areas;

3. Allowing them to stay only in their rooms; and

4. Cancelling the sandbox scheme.”

 

 

 

I already see long lines of touris

DeKaaskopp | 27 July 2021 - 17:21:22

Xivi Finocchio and his knowledge about the true numbers.Always worth a laughter.

Nasa12 | 27 July 2021 - 17:07:52

Wondering how many of employers in central festival have COVID-19. Most be many since they close down one week. 

Xi_Virus | 27 July 2021 - 16:50:15

All we need during this MESS ... is more MESSbox wedding-"Xtunts" ... one MORE pleaXe!

Xi_Virus | 27 July 2021 - 16:44:19

“In the coming week, I expect that the number of new cases will remain at 20-plus because .."

" Because we have a software BUG in our system and that makes it impossible to enter any numbers below 20 ...!!! Gen. KuXak is working on this case and will find a solution Xoon..

 

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