“Closing and focussing on just the ‘red zones’ is better than all the subdistricts shut down,” he told a mass meeting of officials at Provincial Hall late yesterday (Apr 27).
“That way officials can focus on stopping the spread of infection,” Governor Phakaphong said.
However, Governor Phakaphong stressed that he cannot lift any of the restrictions until Cabinet gives its approval.
“Overall, the situation in Phuket has improved. Many areas and people have been impacted by the lockdown, but at this stage I cannot confirm whether Phuket province can ‘re-open’ [sic] on May 1,” he said.
“I cannot alone make the decision to open Phuket province and open the subdistricts. I must wait for Cabinet first. Then I can look at unlocking the subdistricts. Everything must wait for them [Cabinet]. We must wait.
“I hope you understand,” Governor Phakaphong said.
Regardless, preparations have been made for when Cabinet does give its approval, he explained.
“People must continue to wear face masks in public and must observe social distancing in daily life, but if Phuket is allowed to re-open the subdistricts, only some areas which are marked as ‘red zones’ will have to remain locked down,” Governor Phakaphong said.
For this, the Governor handed the discussion over to Phuket Provincial Health Office (PPHO) Chief Thanit Sermkaew to explain.
“There are only four subdistricts that are of concern: Patong, Cherng Talay, Rassada and Wichit,” Chief Thanit said.
However, Chief Thanit suggested even further that “red zone” subdistricts be allowed to “re-open” – except for the areas where cases of infection have been confirmed.
“Not all areas in each subdistrict is considered a ‘red zone’. I present to lock down and block people [from free movement] in specific areas and communities, for example the red zone covering Bang Tao villages Moo 2, 3, 5,” he added.
“Closing some areas in red subdistricts is better than shutting down the whole subdistrict. That way PPHO officials can work effectively,” Chief Thanit said.
“The quarantine for other subdistricts can end already as we have not found any new cases there, but areas in Patong, Cherng Talay, Rassada and Wichit must remain under quarantine for another 14 days,” Chief Thanit explained.
If Cabinet approves, and if his plan is approved, Chief Thanit explained, “In Patong, the last confirmed case was found on Apr 21, so the quarantine there can end on May 5. In Rassada, the last confirmed case there was found on Apr 22, so the quarantine there can end on May 6.
“In Wichit, the last confirmed case was found on Apr 22, so the quarantine there can also end on May 6, and in Cherng Talay the last confirmed case found there was on Apr 26, so the quarantine there can end on May 10,” he said.
“This way we can watch specific red-zone areas closely and stop the infection,” he added.
Assoc Prof Dr Phan Tongchumnum, Vice Chancellor of the PSU Phuket Campus, did offer a word of caution.
“If subdistricts are re-opened on May 1. They must be under certain conditions. Everyone who lives in Phuket must install the ‘Mor Chana’ [“Doctor wins"] app and all businesses need to follow standard procedures to safeguard their own businesses. And everyone must wear a face mask every day," he said.
The Mor Chana app has been developed by the Digital Government Development Agency so that people can stay updated with the latest developments in the COVID-19 outbreak and receive advice from doctors and nurses.