The announcement came following the meeting of the Phuket Communicable Disease Committee at Provincial Hall yesterday (Aug 28).
It also comes as the number of local COVID infections across the island continue to escalate and after the new Sandbox 7+7 travel bubble allowing fully vaccinated tourists to spend their first seven nights in Phuket and the following seven nights in other designated ‘Sandbox’ areas, including in Khao Lak in Phang Nga, Phi Phi Island in Krabi, and Koh Samui in Surat Thani.
Present at the meeting yesterday were Phuket Vice Governors Pichet Panapong and Piyapong Choowong, along with Rewat Areerob, President of the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation (PPAO, or OrBorJor), as well as representatives of key tourism businesses and operators.
Governor Narong noted the high number of local infections across the island, saying that most were related to workers camps and areas near ports serving Phuket’s commercial fishing fleet.
Infections in those areas were averaging some 150 new cases being confirmed each day, he said.
Governor Narong said the current situation was still “controlled”, and that many of the new cases were being identified by proactive screening using antigen test kits (ATKs).
He also assured that the current COVID-prevention and response measures in place were effective, and that the island still had enough hospital beds and medical staff to provide appropriate care for those now confirmed as infected.
Dr Kusak Kukiattikoon, Chief of the Phuket Provincial Public Health Office (PPHO), repeated his explanations that many of the new infections were ‘Green’ patients, meaning they are experiencing only light symptoms of infection.
However, officials were now considering restricting movement of people in Phuket and looking at revising the current restrictions in place to determine whether they are effective enough for the current situation.
Some restrictions may need to be “upgraded” to increase efficiency, Dr Kusak said.
“Organising activities within the province, such as events, the movement of labourers and activities that are at risk of spreading COVID-19 may need to be more intense,” he said.
“In this regard, we asked people to be more intense in their personal measures to protect themselves from infection. Establishments must act accordingly, and strictly follow disease control measures and the DMHTTA policy,” he added.
As for people wanting to enter Phuket, Governor Narong noted, “As for the screening measures for people from outside the Phuket area, it is currently under discussion with related parties to obtain complete information.
“It is expected that on Monday, August 30, will come to a conclusion about the screening measures for people entering the Phuket area so that we can announce an order in Phuket Province that will come into effect on September 1, 2021,” he said.
STUCK IN THE SANDBOX
Of note, on Friday (Aug 27) representatives from Phuket tour business submitted a formal request to Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew asking his office to revise some of the rules regarding one day tours for Phuket Sandbox tourists.
One of the points – as explained by Wirintra Paphakityotphat, President of the Phuket Travel Agents Association – was that tourists who tested negative on arrival and two more times during their stay in Phuket should be allowed to re-enter Phuket after their one-day trips to other Sandbox areas without the need to test again.
The same should apply to car and boat drivers, tour guides and other staff participating in the trips, she added.
“If they are fully vaccinated, they should not have to present test results which increases the costs for tour operators,” Ms Wirintra said.
In turn, Governor Narong told the representatives that their suggestion would be discussed with the Communicable Disease Committee.