The number of people infected had grown from zero to 26 in just the past seven days, V/Gov Piyapong noted, adding that the mass parties held in Phuket last weekend were responsible for most, if not all, new cases.
The 26 new cases bring the number of people in Phuket confirmed as infected with COVID-19 since Dec 1 to 29, he added.
Of the 26 new cases, 20 were directly linked to venues where the three mass parties were held ‒ Cafe Del Mar Phuket in Kamala, and the Shelter and Illuzion nightclubs, both in Patong ‒ V/Gov Piyapong said.
Six of the cases were also directly linked to entertainment venues in Thong Lor, Bangkok, he added, but did not elaborate on whether any of the six Thong Lor cases were counted among the 20 cases linked to the mass parties in Phuket.
“Most of these cases are likely to be high risk [exposure], many cases have been quarantined in local quarantine,” he said.
“More people are likely to be infected. We have to make preparations to re-open Field Hospital 2 [originally set up at the Prince of Songkla University Phuket campus],” he added.
“From the current situation, some people may panic, and we have been asked what we have done about this outbreak. The PPHO Chief [Phuket Provincial Health Office Chief] has already examined the venues of the parties, which are believed to be the origin of this outbreak and questioned involving people since the first day,” he said.
“Since this outbreak began, the Phuket Government has issued orders including the closure of the three entertainment venues for 14 days, Apr 8-21. Other venues are ordered to close from Apr 9-18,” V/Gov Piyapong said.
“The closures are to reduce the risk of infection, as you know the origin of the cluster are from this kind of place,” he said.
The move to close the remote vaccination centres that were set up at Phuket International Airport, Jungceylon shopping mall in Patong,.Angsana Laguna Phuket resort in Cherng Talay and Phuket Orchid Resort and Spa in Karon were to prevent any further spread of the virus, V/Gov Piyapong explained.
However, Vice Governor Piyapong made no mention that the Phuket office of the Public Relations Department (PR Phuket) had posted a notice on its Facebook page asking for all people were at the ‘Cherng Talay vaccination centre’ ‒ at the Angsana Laguna Phuket resort ‒ on Tuesday (Apr 6) from 3pm-5:30pm and on Thursday (Apr 8) from 4:30pm to 6pm to self-isolate where possible for seven days, to keep their distance from others and to wear a mask at all times whenever in public, as they were considered “low-risk persons”
The notice did not say that a person at the centre at those times had now been confirmed as infected with COVID-19.
Likewise, Vice Governor Piyapong made no mention of any person now confirmed as infected with COVID-19 being at the Cherng Talay vaccination centre at any time.
“People are shocked, many walk-ins have been waiting in line for many unregistered injections. The provincial government and the public are concerned by this, that it will create the risk of crowding in the vaccination areas,” he said.
Only the vaccination centre at Saphan Hin will be open today, and only people who have registered and been allocated time to receive their vaccination injection will be vaccinated, he said.
So far only about 20% of the island’s population have received their first vaccination injection, V/Gov Piyapong noted.
Those who have received their first injection will receive their second injection at the end of the month after another 100,000 doses of COVID vaccine arrive on the island, he said.
The vaccinations will continue with further deliveries after that, he said.
“We will try to get everyone vaccinated no later than 25 June in order to open Phuket [to receiving vaccinated international tourists] on July 1,” he added.
V/Gov Piyapong also explained that mobile “blood sampling” vehicles will be stationed on Bangla Rd in Patong from tomorrow through Tuesday (Apr 11-13).
Any persons who went to the three mass parties last weekend will get free COVID tests, he confirmed,
All entertainment staffers working for venues on Bangla Rd will also receive free COVID tests, he added.
V/Gov Piyapong also repeated that all people coming to Phuket “must follow the disease control measures”.
He did not mention that Phuket currently does not require any people arriving from the ‘red zone’ areas in Bangkok and nearby provinces to observe any form of quarantine.
“For those who are coming to Phuket, everyone has to install the Mor Chana app. The comers are divided into two groups…
“The first group is those who come from the red zones ‒ Bangkok, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan and Nakhon Pathom.
“If you stay in hotels, please tell the hotel staff so that they will later inform EOC [emergency Operations Centre] officers. You also have to self-monitor while you are on the island.
“If you do not stay in any hotel, please report to EOC officers by yourselves,” V/Gov Piyapong said.
“For those who come from other provinces, please live your life under the new normal measures. Install the Mor Chana app and self-monitor. There is no need to report to an EOC.”
The Phuket News notes that all people coming to Phuket, at least via the airport, must also register their travel details with the gophuget web portal.
“At this stage, everyone has to strictly follow the D-M-H-T-T measures*,” V/Gov Piyapong said.
He also urged people to follow only the information released through official reports.
However, not mentioned by V/Gov Piyapong, is that under provincial order all restaurants may continue to operate as usual, but all venues must stop selling alcohol from midnight.
The ban on selling alcohol was confirmed halfway through a very long, detailed post by the Phuket office of the Public Relations Department (PR Phuket) after 8pm last night (Apr 9) explaining many of the requirements now in effect due to the current COVID situation.
Additional reporting by Eakkapop Thongtub
D-M-H-T-T measures are the government policy of: D – Distancing, M – Mask Wearing, H – Hand Washing, T – Temperature Check, T – ThaiChana app