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Phuket Opinion: An Omicron Christmas

PHUKET: Phuket’s hopes of kicking off its tourism recovery for a high season took a serious hit this week as the Test & Go scheme was suspended, yet hopes are high that the move will be short lived as Omicron becomes increasingly understood as far less deadly than its predecessors.

opinionCOVID-19healthtourismeconomics
By The Phuket News

Sunday 26 December 2021, 10:00AM


An officer from the Social Welfare Division of Patong Municipality approaches a homeless person in Patong so that he could be provided assistance. Photo: Patong Municipality

An officer from the Social Welfare Division of Patong Municipality approaches a homeless person in Patong so that he could be provided assistance. Photo: Patong Municipality

The announcement on Tuesday that the Test & Go scheme had been suspended was followed by what has become the traditional shambles in explaining exactly what had changed and exactly who were affected.

It took a day to clarify that of the 200,000 who had already been approved to enter Thailand through the Test & Go Scheme, actually 110,000 had been approved and a further 90,000 had applied but had yet to be approved. Getting such a simple number wrong probably tells everyone all they need to know about how well the Thailand Pass system is working, or worse, about those operating it.

Even 48 hours after the announcement the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) was still explaining on its website that the second RT-PCR test now mandated on Day 5-6 of any persons still allowed into the country would be by antigen test kit (ATK). That has now been fixed. (See here.)

Yet, it has to be said, the clarifications came relatively quickly compared with previous efforts.

One thing the central government got right was keeping the Phuket Sandbox open. It would have beggared belief that shortsightedness or a lack of understanding of their own protocols would have overlooked that this system was launched in response to much more dangerous variants of the virus. It works, keep it going.

Leading Phuket tourism figures were quick to praise the government for this move, and rightly so. Bangkok needs to know that while all the gloss looks pretty, showing tourists returning, people on beaches and even traffic starting to return to the island, much of the tourism recovery so far has not reached most of the people on the island.

Eveen Patong Mayor Chalermsak Maneesri is finding himself caught up in at-odds situations exemplifying the exact state of affairs right now.

He attended the fireworks-studded grand opening of the Roi Nhat Yod Dai food festival on Patong Beach last Saturday night with a brave face welcoming an event to draw more tourists to the town, then joined teams from the Social Welfare Division of Patong Municipality in providing assistance – and shelter – to homeless people living in abandoned buildings in Patong six days later, on Christmas Eve.

Meanwhile, private efforts to provide assistance to people in need during this season of giving are continuing.

The suspension of the Test & Go scheme is to be reviewed on Jan 4, only nine days from now, and many people’s hopes are riding on the suspension being called off. Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul noted on Friday, “I also want to ask people to avoid panicking as long as the information from the Department of Disease Control [DDC] shows Omicron has much less severe symptoms than Delta.”

He may be only echoing what Thailand has learned from abroad, as Europe and especially the UK are doing much of the real-world research on the actual effects Omicron is having on those infected, but so far he is not wrong. While the likes of France and Germany have again nearly shut down, even the UK with its record-setting figures of infections is starting to treat Omicron as a threat to the economy, not to life.

In Phuket, we may have some tourists now, but we still need what we can get. A realistic understanding of Omicron would go a long way to alleviating much fear, and financial hardship, for those living on the island.

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Kurt | 27 December 2021 - 10:13:12

@SEC2, also many  foreign real estate business people are in trouble. Hardly keep themselves standing during this pandemic happening. Partly their own fault as they keep property sales prices at non realistic high levels for mainly lease holds.. Wo wants to lease property if you can't come and go to it as you wish with present Immigration rules- and Covid entrance handling? 

SEC2 | 27 December 2021 - 08:51:13

@Xi_Virus Many Thai people suffering. My neighbor has lost millions on his company, another neighbor had to close her restaurant this year, another neighbor can barely pay his rent. All Thais. If you follow the Thais that are buying the luxury items and see them get into their luxury cars, they all have BKK plates.  If you don't know the difference you don't live in Phuket. Insensitive foo...

Taswegian | 27 December 2021 - 06:49:11

Oh dear! People really should stay off youtube....

ThomasT | 26 December 2021 - 17:16:37

Reply to Kurt. What Omicron?  Health  Science Institutions Worldwide “Have No Record” of SARS-COV-2 Isolation/Purification. By C.Massey, 5.12..21.   Dr. Kary Mullis, inventor of the PCR test stated his test only idents strands of DNA from Hep. and Flu.
US Dr. E. Eads studies show PCR test gives 97% false positives. WHO #202005 20.1.21. PCR test has no value!

ThomasT | 26 December 2021 - 17:06:59

Careful jabbing pilots, Thailand. BITCHUTE..   Jabbed Pilots NOT lawfully allowed to fly.  FAA’s own rule says those taking drugs than have been FDA APPROVED for less than 12 months should NOT be certified. FAA have been served notice that vaxed pilots should be medically flagged, tested frequently for signs of cardiac and clotting issue… Brighteon.   Dr. Robert Young: Why is there graphene th

Xi_Virus | 26 December 2021 - 16:07:57

Don't be naïve!

Just look at the body composition of Thais today!

Obesity is a common issue among Thais today!!!

That says a lot.

Xi_Virus | 26 December 2021 - 16:06:33

... check out the cars they are driving? 

Almost 90% of luxury car owners today are Thais. 

BMW and Benz have become normal cars on the island.

Xi_Virus | 26 December 2021 - 15:58:43

... take Apple iPhone 13 as an example:
Almost all buyers have been Thais and iPhone sold out directly when it was launched back in October. 

Since then It is still a demanding item by Thais through pre-ordering!

or ...

Xi_Virus | 26 December 2021 - 15:54:39

How come?
Visit a shopping mall and you will find they are spending on anything expensive while foreigners have to figure out if they can afford it or not?

Look at the 5-star restaurants anywhere on the island or ...

Xi_Virus | 26 December 2021 - 15:51:51

What kind of hardship are you talking about TPN?

I don't see any hardship on the island!

Fact of matter is that Thais are among wealthiest in the plant right now. 

Also the most spenders on the island right now.

Kurt | 26 December 2021 - 12:03:26

...That period of time makes sense to analyse coming Omicron developments.  Also after 20 January Sinapore will continue limiting traveler inflow. A wise thing to do.

Kurt | 26 December 2021 - 11:54:48

A just 2.5 week suspension of 'Test & Go' is to short to analyse the effect of that decision. Is just a cosmetic show thing. Omicron will arrive by 'Sandbox'. Anyway, the Kalasin area will spread Omicron well, also on Phuket, as many Phuket hotel workers retuen now from Kalassin homes. Singapore like wise çloses up till 20 January. That period ot time makes sense to analyse co...

 

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