Dr Kusak revealed the figures this morning during a live broadcast from Provincial Hall, joined by Phuket Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong and Public Relations Department Phuket office (PR Phuket) Chief Bussaya Chaipeum.
The figures were given in response to a deluge of queries as to the high number of cases being confirmed in Phuket in recent weeks, with a record number of local infections confirmed yesterday (Aug 19).
“Yesterday, we had a new highest number of infected cases with 131 at total,” Dr Kusak said.
“Among the cases, 76 people were high-risk contacts, 53 were newfound cases, and two were Phuket Sandbox arrivals, bringing the total number of infected arrivals to 62, or 0.3%,” Dr Kusak said.
“High-risk contacts are staying in the local quarantine venues, on boats, in workers’ camps, and some are at home. People who are observing their quarantine at home can be divided into two groups: 1. Bedridden patients who have caretakers; and 2. People who are waiting to move to a local quarantine venue.
“Among the newfound cases were: 1. People who are tested positive in proactive screening; 2. People who had flu-like symptoms and went to see a doctor; and 3. People who bought antigen test kits (ATK) and tested themselves,” he said.
“Most of the newfound cases do not have any symptoms. So far this month, we have conducted proactive screening 47 times in different areas [across the island]. We tested 12,391 people, and 519 people, or 4.2%, tested positive,” Dr Kusak confirmed.
“Some people have questioned why the number of new infected cases has increased sharply. I would like to explain that right now we are fighting the Delta variant of the virus, which we can be infected with more easily than before. We have conducted proactive screening more often, and the test kits are more accessible,” he said.
“Before this, we conducted RT-PCR tests only, for which we needed to wait for 1½ to two days for the results, and each test costs B2,000-3,000. Right now, we are using ATKs, which need only 15 minutes to see the results and costs us only B200-300 a time,” he continued.
“Right now, 70-80% of new infected people have no symptoms or only light symptoms. They just need to do quarantine in the COVID-19 Care Centers, local quarantine venues and field hospitals,” he added.
Of note, so far the PPHO has confirmed 1,134 local infections in Phuket since Aug 1. As of yesterday (Aug 19), the total number of local infections since Apr 3, the date that Phuket officials recognise as the ‘Third Wave’ of infections reaching the island, the total number of local infections stood at 2,300.
Vice Governor Piyapong recognised that people may buy ATKs and test themselves for infection.
However, he also recognised that ATK test results are not reliable on their own.
“I would like to explain that the teams of proactive screening may not go to your areas as fast as you want, but you can buy antigen test kits which are available at pharmacies to test by yourselves. You just need to do the test correctly,” V/Gov Piyapong said.
“If you test negative, do not underestimate the virus. There is still a 20% error rate among the test kits. False negatives can happen,” he said.
Dr Kusak continued, “If you conduct a test by yourself and test positive, you are considered only a ‘probable case’. Please inform the PPHO by calling our COVID-19 hotline 094-5938876 or 062-2435116.”
V/Gov Piyapong noted, “If you test negative, please continue to follow the DMHTTA measures and go about your usual daily lives, but carefully.”