Under current COVID-19 restrictions, only goods delivery drivers, medical personnel and persons granted special permission are allowed to enter Phuket through the checkpoint at Tha Chatchai, the only road onto the island, between 11pm and 5am.
No other travellers are allowed through the checkpoint during those hours.
Maj Gen Pornsak Nuannoo in his statement recognised a news report of chartered vans carrying in total no less than 20 people entering Phuket through the checkpoint during the restricted hours.
The news report specifically said that the vans were carrying Muslim passengers and that they were coming to Phuket to arrive at a residential project that they had bought, Maj Gen Pornsak said.
“Phuket people are probably worried that the vans secretly brought a rich Muslim from the southern border provinces into Phuket,” Maj Gen Pornsal said in his statement, without clarifying why people would think that.
He said that officers had checked the CCTV footage of all vehicles that had recently entered the province during the restricted hours.
“Out of concern for and for the confidence of the people of Phuket, we have checked the CCTV footage [at the checkpoint],” he said, adding that all vehicles entering the province are recorded on CCTV.
After checking the footage recorded during the restricted hours on May 18-20, officers found one van, belonging to a foundation, entering Phuket, Maj Gen Pornsak said.
After checking the footage recorded during the restricted hours on May 21-24, officers only found one interprovincial passenger van entering the province, he added.
“Phuket Communicable Disease Control officers issue all orders regarding quarantine, and all the information is available at the checkpoint and at the Sub-District Emergency Operations Center (E0C), which examines the preliminary list [for allowing people to enter Phuket]. There are still no suspected names of travelers from the three southernmost provinces,” Maj Gen Pornsak said.
“We were able to retrieve the information of the van entering Phuket by ordering the staff to perform a thorough inspection, and we will hasten the process for the truth to appear as soon as possible,” he added.
“However, thank you for all the clues. By screening people, even though [such people] can escape our sight, they cannot keep out of sight of technology,” he said.
“Phuket people are very much aware of this,” he added.
Maj Gen Pornsak pointed out that the President of the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation -- currently Rewat Areerob, though Maj Gen Pornsak did not name him ‒ had launched a project to improve the police’s ability to conduct surveillance by CCTV.
“This is to build confidence among people and tourists in measures to take care of the lives, property and safety of the people of Phuket Province,” he said.