“From discussion with, and analysis by, health officers, we expect that we will clearly see a change within one week,” Governor Narong told the press after the meeting of Phuket Communicable Disease Committee at Provincial Hall last night (Aug 31).
“From the meeting, we talked together about the infection situation and economic situation in Phuket, which we must pay much attention to while our number of new infected cases keeps getting higher. We have worked and tried our best to control the number,” he said.
“We fully realise that we must solve this problem as soon as possible, as right now it is much easier for all of us to become infected,” Governor Narong said.
Joining Governor Narong in speaking with the press were Phuket Public Health Office (PPHO) Chief Dr Kusak Kukiattikoon and Vachira Phuket Hospital Director Dr Chalermpong Sukontapol, who was clearly looking tired.
“We are pretty confident that within one week, we will have lower numbers of new infected cases, as we have already conducted the proactive case screening in many risk areas across the island,” Dr Chalermpong said.
“The remaining areas that we have not gone to are not crowded communities or communities that have a high number of infected people,” he added.
Dr Kusak continued, “We have conducted proactive screening in areas of big clusters [of infections], which are migrant workers in the fishing industry and at construction sites. Today, we went to test sea gypsies in Ban Sapam in Koh Kaew, as we have already tested sea gypsies at Laem Tukkae on Koh Siray and in Rawai.
“In Ban Sapam, we tested 248 people and found 100 people infected, or about 40% [of the community],” Dr Kusak noted.
“We still have sea gypsies in Mai Khao that we have not conducted proactive screening, but as a community they are not crowded together,” he said.
Not explained in the video press conference after the meeting last night, but reported by the Phuket office of the Public Relations Department (PR Phuket) at 8:55pm last night was that during the meeting Dr Chalermpong had presented a ‘Quick Win’ strategy to battle the surge in COVID-19 infections in Phuket.
The four point strategy was explained as follows:
1. Measures to stop any movement of people on the island and any activity that is necessary.
2. Proactive case screening will focus more on target groups of people who are more than 60 years old, patients with any of seven chronic diseases [recognised as at higher risk of contracting COVID-19], and women more than 12 weeks pregnant. Local administrative organisations will take more part in this cooperation by monitoring the targeted people in their responsible areas.
3. Infected people will be separated into groups and receive treatment at different venues, as follows:
- ‘Green’-coded patients [experiencing no symptoms of infection] will be allowed to quarantine at home, at organisational quarantine venues, at factory quarantine venues or at venues set by local administrative organisations.
- ‘Yellow’-coded patients [experiencing only light symptoms of infection] will be taken into field hospitals.
- ‘Red’-coded patients will be treated at hospitals.
4. The booster (third) dose of AstraZeneca will be provided to people in Phuket within September. The vaccinations will be completed in one month, like in April [sic].
The Phuket News notes that “completing” administering third booster jabs by the end of this month might be problematic considering that only 77% of the target population to be vaccinated ‒ not 77% of the actual population on the island ‒ have received their second vaccination injection, according to Phuket officials themselves.
According to the latest report for yesterday (Aug 31), posted by PR Phuket at midday today (Sept 1), a total of 361,430 people in Phuket have received their second vaccination injection, and are considered “fully vaccinated” ‒ amounting to 77% of the original 466,587 target population to be vaccinated.
Of note, officials began reporting the 466,587 target number as the actual population on the island in mid-June, with national figures including Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha relaying the same information ‒ despite Dr Chalermpong and Dr Kusak both earlier explaining that this was only the target to be vaccinated ‒ not the actual number of people on the island.
Of note, as of today, Phuket officials still have not made the claim that Phuket has reached herd immunity by achieving the number of vaccinations claimed ‒ despite that being the espoused goal of the mass vaccination campaign.