Of the 55 confirmed infected, 44 have yet to be included in the tally of 33 confirmed infections reported for yesterday (Aug 12).
Of note, the initiall testing is being conducted with rapid antigen test kits (ATKs) only. RT-PCR tests are used only in follow-up tests.
“On Aug 11 [Wednesday], we tested 870 people in our proactive screening at the market and found 11 people infected, those were four Thais and seven migrant workers,” a Phuket City Municipality health officer who asked not to be named told The Phuket News this morning (Aug 13).
“And yesterday, we changed the location for the testing to the petanque venue at Saphan Hin. We tested 543 people, those were 429 Thais and 114 migrant workers. Forty-four people, 21 Thais and 23 migrant workers, tested positive,” she said.
“The 44 people have not been added into the case daily report by Phuket Public Health Office [PPHO] because we finished the testing after they concluded the number,” she added.
Of note, the daily COVID situation report for yesterday was marked as accurate as of 11pm last night.
The entire area around the market was sealed off under lockdown on Wednesday, and will remain under lockdown until at least next Tuesday (Aug 17).
“No people are allowed to enter or leave the areas, except for the delivery of food, cooking gas, medical equipment, as well as emergency ambulance and medical staff,” said a provincial order issued by Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew on Tuesday night (Aug 10).
Municipality workers have undertaken mass cleaning and sterilsation throughout the area, including the fresh market itself on Ranong Rd and the Downtown Plaza market across the road, as well as small sidestreets through the zone.
Health officers have also conducted spot checks in high-risk areas elsewhere in Phuket Town, with officers working into the night. Mass testing of 132 people in the Phoophon Night Plaza area, located outside the lockdown zone, found one new person infected, confirmed the PPHO.
In total more than 100 infections have been linked to the fresh market cluster, Governor Narong pointed out during his visit to the mass testing site on Wednesday.
“Phuket Municipality is helping to take care of those living in the lockdown zone, including delivering food to make sure they get three meals a day, to alleviate the suffering and to inspect inside each building so that information can be brought be used to track the rate of infections in the area, and help to reduce the current rise in confirmed infections,” he said.
PPHO Chief Dr Kusak Kukiattikoon has confirmed that Phuket health officials will continue with their ‘Bubble and Seal’ policy, independently isolating individual areas where clusters are identified.
So far three migrant worker camps ‒ one each in Patong, Karon and Thalang ‒ have been placed under lockdown, he confirmed.
The policy will also apply to neighbourhoods and local residential areas, he noted, Baan Nanai in Tambon Thepkrasattri, Thalang, was placed under lockdown earlier this month after a cluster was identified there.
Individual areas will be placed under ‘Bubble and Seal’ isolation “if the number of infections is more than 10-20% in an area,” Dr Kusak said.
Governor Narong on Tuesday said it was “too early to tell” whether the heavy restrictions currently imposed to help prevent the spread of infections across the island will continue after next Monday (Aug 16), when the current order enforcing the restrictions is due to expire.
The Phuket Provincial Communicable Disease Committee will decide what further action to take closer to Monday, Governor Narong said.
“I would like to explain that we are considering the infection situation on the island, and throughout the country, every day,” he said.
In introducing the strong restrictions, Governor Narong on July 30 explained that the restrictions were necessary to prevent more infections being brought onto the island from the mainland, saying it was the only way to save the Phuket Sandbox scheme, and save Phuket’s hopes of economic recovery.
Under the current restrictions only essential deliveries, emergency workers and people conducting essential business on Phuket, including travelling to Phuket to leave via the airport, are allowed onto the island.
On the day that the tighter measures to enter Phuket were introduced on Aug 3, 190 drivers were refused entry to the island for failing to satisfy the requirements.
Even by Aug 5, 25% of those arriving at the checkpoint were being turned away, Phuket Provincial Police Deputy Commander Col Aganit Danpitaksat later confirmed.
However, Col Aganit also explained that the volume of traffic arriving at the checkpoint at Tha Chatchai had fallen by some 75% since the new measures were introduced.
People are still being turned away at the Phuket Check Point at Tha Chatchai for failing to meet the requirements to enter Phuket, Phuket Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong reported to Gen Nattapol Nakpanit, a key figure at the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) in Bangkok, by video conference on Wednesday.
On Tuesday (Aug 10), 349 people arriving in 200 vehicles were refused entry, Vice Governor Piyapong said.
However, 2,478 people arriving in 2,058 vehicles were granted entry, he noted.
A further 2,870 people left Phuket in 2,252 vehicles, he added. Among them were 81 Phuket Sandbox tourists.