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Please be patient: Timelines take time

PHUKET: The Official COVID-19 Information Center Phuket has appealed for the public to be patient and mindful of the process it takes for them to publicly provide timelines of people’s movements after the person has been confirmed as infected with COVID-19.

COVID-19Coronavirushealth
By The Phuket News

Thursday 29 April 2021, 04:35PM


The Official COVID-19 Information Center Phuket made the appeal, posted by an unnamed official as “Admin”, on its official Facebook page today (Apr 29).

The Official COVID-19 Information Center Phuket is operated by the ‘Phuket office of the Ministry of Interior’, otherwise better known as the Phuket Provincial Government, including the Phuket Governor’s Office.

The posting of timelines has come under increasing criticism online for being made available weeks after the patient was confirmed as infected.

The latest timelines posted, for cases 321-336, can be seen here.

Today, provincial officials, unnamed, responded. Here is their response, in full:

The timeline is the result of a disease investigation that provides information about the travel history of the infected person, where, when, and who they met.

For COVID-19, we create a timeline dating back to about two weeks before the person started to become sick or was detected because that is the period of high risk that shows an infection point that can quickly connect the source of infection and track high-risk people into care, limit the infections to a minimum, reduce the chance of transmission of infection, which all lead to successful disease control

Why is the timeline notified so late ????? [sic]

1. We need time to review the information. Try to answer this question yourself. How long can we think back? Most of the time, in just three days we have forgotten where we have been. Ordinary people spend hours giving us information, and the more people are not comfortable with it, the  more time it takes. It takes more time to collect information. Some people take all day to provide us the information.

2. We must include the information as completely as possible and write it as short as possible. Believe it or not, the longest timeline we have is almost 20 sheets of A4 paper, but it must be summarised into only 1-2 pages.

3. We must follow it the best we can. If an infected person travels, they must specify a vehicle, the seat, where it stopped, and their accommodation. Some stops people do not remember. We have to ask to see the bus ticket, flight ticket, seat number, even the receipt of the shop that they went to, such as a receipt from a 7-Eleven store, so we can follow up with the surveillance cameras to confirm the location and the time to be as accurate as possible.

4. We need strong communication skills and patience. Investigating to obtain information is extremely difficult. Some people misrepresent their information, avoid giving information, do not want to disclose information. Some people use inappropriate words, blame, use insults or even harass officials, but we do everything we can to get information on disease control.

5. We must use appropriate and thoughtful language in the written reports. Mentioning places and third parties in the timeline has a big impact on people and places. Therefore, it must be clear, or if it cannot be identified, it must be prepared in a way to account for future comments.

6. We need to control the disease before the timeline is released. The disease control team must first manage the risk groups and locations in order to control and limit the outbreak as quickly as possible, because if the timeline is revealed first, major risk locations may close or not cooperate, and our disease control team will not be able to manage the situation.

7. We take less than 10 minutes to write up the notification, but to make sure that the information on the risk location, the time of risk and information of those exposed to high risks is complete can take at least 4-6 hours per patient.

We want to point out that the timeline is very useful in terms of epidemiology in order to quickly track down high risk people and take them into care, limit the number of infections as much as possible, and reduce the risk of transmission. It is useful in terms of both academic [study] and notification.

We want timelines to stimulate everyone to protect yourselves, not only list places where not to go.

We wish everyone to live their lives wherever they are at risk and take action in accordance with DMHTTA measures. We will continue to work as quickly as possible and embrace every offer for the benefit of our people.

INFECTIONS UPDATE

The Phuket Provincial Public Health Office (PPHO) has reported that Phuket recorded 13 new cases of infection yesterday (Apr 28)-- the third consecutive day that Phuket has marked 13 new infections ‒ bringing to 374 the total number of people in Phuket officially recognised as infected with COVID-19 since Apr 

The report was marked as accurate as of 6pm last night (Apr 28).

Of those, 235 people were receiving hospital treatment, while 138 people had already been discharged from medical care, noted the report.

The PPHO also today released an updated map showing the location of infections across the island. The map, showing 374 cases of infection and marked as accurate as of 6pm last night (Apr 28), reported the locations of infections as follows:

  • Patong ‒ 41 infections (Of note, the report for yesterday marked that Patong had 42 infections)
  • Kathu ‒ 33
  • Kamala ‒ 31
  • Cherng Talay ‒ 22
  • Thepkrasattri ‒ 7 (yesterday Thepkrasattri had 8 infections)
  • Srisoonthorn ‒ 25
  • Pa Khlok ‒ 10
  • Koh Kaew ‒ 11
  • Rassada ‒ 27 (yesterday 29 infections)
  • Talad Yai Phuket Town ‒ 24 (yesterday 25 infections)
  • Talad Neua Phuket Town ‒ 15
  • Wichit ‒ 37 (yesterday 39 infections)
  • Chalong ‒ 27 (yesterday 28 infections)
  • Rawai ‒ 20 (yesterday 21 infections)
  • Karon ‒ 4
  • Mai Khao ‒ 7
  • Sakhu ‒ 7

The number of infections marked on the map totalled 351, with the report noting that 13 new cases had been recognised, but it was not explained that the 13 new cases had yet to be attributed to a location.

The map did note that eight cases in Sakhu were at a ‘Local Quarantine’ venue and that one case in Mai Khao was at an ‘Alternative Local Quarantine’ venue.

HOSPITALS

The PPHO today also released an updated report of the number of COVID patients receiving treatment at each hospital.

The report, dated as accurate as of 6pm last night (Apr 28), noted that 84 people were receiving medical care at ‘Field Hospitals’.

A further 38 people were receiving treatment at Vachira Phuket Hospital in Phuket Town, along with 18 at Patong Hospital and 17 at Thalang Hospital.

Of the privately operated hospitals on the island, 42 people are currently receiving COVID treatment at Bangkok Hospital Phuket, along with zero COVID patients at Dibuk Hospital and 25 at Bangkok Hospital Siriroj. All three hospitals are operated by Bangkok Dusit Medical Services (BDMS) Company Limited.

Nine people with COVID are receiving treatment at Mission Hospital Phuket and two are receiving treatment at Phuket Provincial Hospital in Rassada.

The report also notes that 138 people have been discharged from COVID medical care, with one person referred to another facility, which has previously been reported as transferred to Bangkok.

RAPID TESTING OF ARRIVALS

The PPHO also reported that 3,518 people were checked on arrival to enter the province yesterday (Apr 28): 557 at the airport; 1,910 at Phuket Gateway, where buses and vans coming onto the island are checked; and 1,051 at the Phuket Check Point at Tha Chatchai.

Of those, two people tested positive by the rapid antigen test: one at the airport and one and Phuket Gateway. Both arrivals are to undergo more conclusive tests for the virus.

In total, 18, 772 people have been checked for COVID-19 when arriving on the island since the testing requirement came into effect on Apr 22, said the report.

The rapid antigen testing has so far identified 20 people as COVID carriers, the report noted.

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