Key among the concerns was the impact such an incident would have on further damaging the chances of a recovering Phuket’s already devastated tourism industry.
The concerns were raised at the meeting of the Phuket Communicable Disease Committee at Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday (July 15), chaired by Phuket Vice Governor Phichet Panaphong.
At the meeting, Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwansupana shared her concerns such an incident would have, and pointed out that more than 200 students at schools operated by Phuket City Municipality had been removed from classes as their families had moved back to their home provinces as they no longer had work.
“I want to ask whether the Phuket Government has better protection measures to handle any such unexpected situations? Will privileged people [sic] be allowed to come to Phuket?” she posed.
V/Gov Phichet responded, “Every person is concerned and does not want the situation in Rayong to happen here, and the Phuket Government and other officials continue to work on enforcing the measures to control and protect against the pandemic.
“For the exemption for privileged people, the Phuket Government is only allowed to follow orders from the CCSA [Center for the COVID-19 Situation Administration in Bangkok],” he added.
“At this stage, we are waiting for a response to an official request asking whether the Phuket Government can set up our own conditions and regulations for those people or not. However, until then, we must follow the measures set out by the Ministry of Public Health strictly.”
Regarding crewmen on boats arriving in Phuket from international waters, V/Gov Pichet said, “We allow only Thai crew of cargo ships to disembark in Phuket. They must contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Department of Disease Control before coming to Phuket and be tested and quarantined for 14 days.”
That comment followed a “misunderstanding” that saw a by a public hospital pharmacist reporting a Thai crewmen arriving in Phuket from Indonesia being allowed to disembark in Phuket without observing a 14-day quarantine – a claim that V/Gov Pichet on Tuesday claimed was incorrect.
“Since June 1, 190 crewmen have been tested and quarantined. Of those, 100 have been allowed to disembark freely in Phuket,” V/Gov Pichet said yesterday.
Phuket had not recorded any new cases of people being infected with COVID-19 for 52 days, he said.