According to a PPHO report released late yesterday (Dec25), a total of 197 people were identified as high-risk candidates of contracting the disease from the initial confirmed case, a resident in Kathu who contracted COVID-19 after attending a big bike rally on Koh Lanta, where he came into direct contact with a man from Samut Sakhon who was later confirmed to be infected.
Of the 197, two confirmed cases had been identified – the man’s two sons.
All three, the man and his two sons, are still under hospital care, the PPHO noted.
Testing had so far confirmed that 159 of the high-risk candidates were not infected with COVID-19, the PPHO reported.
However, 36 people were still waiting for tests, it added.
The updated report came as Dr Pitakpol Boonyamalik, an inspector-general at the Public Health Ministry, arrived on the island yesterday to be briefed on the COVID situation in Phuket. Dr Pitakpol was told that in total 230 people were deemed to be at risk of contracting COVID-19 from the man who had travelled to Koh Lanta.
Of note, Khunnatham Wittaya School in Hat Yai district, Songkhla province, closed on Friday immediately after it found that a student was in close contact with an infected person who had been to a big bike event on Koh Lanta, Krabi province. Parents were told to urgently pick their children up at the school. The school was on Friday closed until Jan 3 so it can be disinfected.
Specifically regarding the checking of all migrant workers on the island in response to the outbreak that began in the fishing port area of Samut Sakhon, on the outskirts of Bangkok, Dr Pitakpol was informed that so far no confirmed cases of migrant workers had been found in Phuket after 21,203 workers had been screened at 434 camps, residences and workplaces, including 126 workers who had recently returned from Samut Sakhon province.
“People should monitor the situation, and help each other to monitor and watch for any foreign workers who might be infected fleeing to Phuket, and notify community leaders immediately In order to continue helping to prevent the spread of infection,” Dr Pitakpol said.
Dr Pitakpol pointed out that foreign tourists were still allowed to enter the country, especially tourists looking to use the wellness and healthcare services available, despite the current Samut Sakhon situation.
However, he also pointed out that conditions of entering the country must be enforced.
Dr Pitakpol was informed that Phuket currently has 23 hotels that have been approved to operate as Alternative Local Quarantine (ALQ) venues and three hospitals have been contracted to provide medical services for those ALQs: the Phuket Provincial Hospital (also called the PPAO or OrBorJor Hospital), Bangkok Hospital Phuket and Bangkok Hospital Siriroj.
“We must still emphasize the importance of social distancing as part of the New Normal, and not be careless. We must not panic, but not let our guard down,” Dr Pitakpol said.
“People must wear face masks or a cloth mask [covering their nose and mouth] and carry alcohol gel to wash their hands, especially in areas where foreigners from Myanmar live and work and in any areas where people congregate,” he added.
Dr Pitakpol also pointed out that to help counter the spread of COVID-19, the government had extended the Emergency Decree until Jan 15, 2021.