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Phuket rapid testing of arrivals begins

PHUKET: Thousands of people arriving at Phuket International Airport from elsewhere in the country today (Apr 22) were subjected to the first day of mandatory rapid tests for COVID-19 as a requisite for entering the province.

By The Phuket News

Thursday 22 April 2021, 06:22PM

Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew today inspected the operations to ensure they went smoothly, though long queues of people were found waiting to undergo the procedure.

Governor Narong during his live video press conference this morning said that it was expected that very few people would be able to avoid having to take the rapid test, even though the first two flights today carried less than 150 passengers in total.

“The first two flights, we have 79 and 52 passengers, respectively,” Governor Narong said.

“Today is our first day. Most passengers do not have the documents to prove they are COVID-free and need to be tested. They have to fill information into a form, which is for prove to the National Health Security Office [NHSO] that they had the test, so it is quite crowded in the areas we arranged,” he said.

“Among the passengers, only one person,  a medical staffer, could prove they were fully vaccinated, and three people could prove they had tested negative for the virus within 72 hours before coming,” he added.

Under the revised COVID-protection order issued by Governor Narong on Tuesday (Apr 20), all arrivals from the other 17 ‘red zone’ provinces (Phuket is one of the 18 red zone provinces in the country) who are unable to prove that they are fully vaccinated or unable to prove they have tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours before arriving must be cleared by an ‘Antigen Rapid Test’ before being allowed onto the island.

Although the advisory notice issued in English yesterday noted that people had to prove both, Phuket Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong confirmed to The Phuket News this afternoon that people arriving from red zone provinces need to prove either that they are fully vaccinated, OR prove that they tested negative within 72 hours of arriving in order to avoid taking the rapid test.

“I confirm that foreigners do not have to do the rapid test if they can prove they are fully vaccinated OR tested negative within 72 hours,” he said.


“It needs to be the word ‘or’. We need to fix the notice,” he said.

The rapid test requirement today was also enforced at the Phuket Check Point at Tha Chatchai, the one way by road onto the island, with Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (PPAO, or OrBorJor) President Rewat Areerob overseeing operations there.

Governor Narong this morning apologised in advance for the inconvenience of enforcing the rapid test.

“I have to apologise for this inconvenience, but we have to do this to protect our local people and the passengers themselves from infection,” he said.

“We choose to test arrivals instead of quarantine because I think it is a better way to move forward our economy and tourism. The measure will support our plan to reopen to foreign tourists,” he added. 

Phuket International Airport General Manager Thanee Chuangchoo noted, “We have six teams of medical staff from hospitals in Phuket to conduct the rapid tests for arrivals.

“Our medical staff are now working perfectly. I think staff at other airports should take Phuket International Airport as a role model,” he said.

Mr Thanee also noted that mass vaccinations resumed today at X-Terminal building at the airport for people to receive their second vaccination injection.

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Christy Sweet | 24 April 2021 - 13:52:32

According to an independent study by Cochrane  last year- "In people without symptoms, on average, the antigen tests correctly identified 58% of those who were infected. .." Also the quality of the substance samples matters a lot. In short, a whole lot of wiggle room.  Just SHUT IT ALL DOWN for 3 weeks.. Give people 5000 baht. The money exists, pry it  out... 

Kurt | 24 April 2021 - 00:11:48

Read in BP of 23rd: "Exhaustive check for Phuket arrivals". And: "BKK ICU beds filling up as Covid infections surge. BKK could run out in 1 week". ( read also the comments of both articles).  And Phuket is opening up?? Soon Phuket will be racing for ICU beds too. Tssss.

Christy Sweet | 23 April 2021 - 15:51:28

"Working perfectly.." That rings a bell. Oh yeah, Trump in spring of 2020  referring to his administration's disastrous response to SARS-CoV-2. I guess if killing minorities was the goal, then it did work perfectly. Now Thailand sees a chance to wipe out elderly and compromised ignoring the collateral damage to many people's health. This will boomerang. 

r u sure | 23 April 2021 - 10:51:06

@Fascinated I would suggest visiting other provinces currently is not the smartest move??

Nasa12 | 23 April 2021 - 08:44:58

April 11 there was many people living in 2 hotels for many days  in phuket whit Covid-19. One hotel in Kata Noi and one in Karon. So why the phuket government don’t going out in the news and tell people to take a test. 

Kurt | 23 April 2021 - 08:22:20

Phuket can now prepare a 3rd field Covid hospital.  And were can 60+ Phuket expats/retirees now get a AstraZeneca vaccination?

Kurt | 23 April 2021 - 08:15:55

Thousands not tested, not vaccinated people arriving first day? Why are tests, cert. checks not done at Airport of Departure before take off to Phuket? A several hours flight is a ideal 'breeding' chance to get infected before arriving at Phuket, and next show asymptomatic. Do I miss some logic in how Phuket Officialdom is handling Covid-19 Pandemic?

Fascinated | 22 April 2021 - 19:23:46

Does the Ed know where we foreigners can get tested if we need to prove we are COVID free before visiting other red provinces? Any update on when or where those of us 'aliens' living here can get jabs without having to resort to probable extortionate costs at a local hospital group?


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