The news was revealed at the Phuket Communicable Disease Control Committee meeting yesterday (July 9), chaired by Phuket Vice Governor Phichet Panapong.
Joining the meeting were fellow Vice Governor Vikrom Jakthee, Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation (PPAO, or OrBorJor) President Rewat Areerob, Vachira Phuket Hospital Director Chalermpong Sukontapol and Col Sermphan Sirikong, Deputy Commander of Phuket Provincial Police.
Dr Kusak reported that 10 new cases of infection on the island were confirmed yesterday alone (July 9), which he noted was the highest number of cases in the past several days. which have recently remained in the single digits.
“As a result, the situation of the spread of COVID-19 In the area of Phuket is not very reliable. As new patients are now found outside of LQ [local quarantine venues] or not in quarantine, and most of them are Thai people who travelled from other areas,” he said.
“All those close to those confirmed infected have been quarantined,” he added.
However, Dr Kusak also noted, “Now in Phuket one case of the Delta variant has been confirmed who has been receiving treatment for the past five days. Four more cases of the Beta variant have been confirmed, in addition to two previously confirmed.”
All Beta infections identified in Phuket were people who had travelled from four southern border provinces, Dr Kusak said.
“All those who have had close contact [with those infected with the Beta variant] and at high risk have been put into quarantine,” he added.
“Therefore, people are asked to strictly take precautions according to the measures prescribed by the government to prevent further spread of the COVID-19 virus in the area,” Dr Kusak said.
Of note, while Dr Kusak was yesterday finally confirming that Delta variant was confirmed on Phuket five days ago, his announcement followed him on June 30 denouncing claims shared across social media that the Delta variant of the COVID virus had been found in Phuket as fake news.
In response to an anticipated rise in infections in Phuket, the committee yesterday reviewed a raft of options, including setting up a third field hospital at the 4000-seat Indoor Sports Stadium at Saphan Hin for critically ill patients requiring ventilators, and the approval of 70 more local quarantine rooms at a venue in Nai Yang.
Other measures considered were to increase allowing people to quarantine at home and accelerating vaccination of high-risk groups of people over 60 years old and those afflicted with the seven medical conditions recognised by the Ministry of Public Health as posing higher risk.
The committee also considered closing all schools as a COVID prevention measure, which came into effect by provincial order yesterday.
Further measures now under consideration included prohibiting travel across provinces, ordering risk locations to close and asking people to leave their homes only for essential reasons, and postponing the TAT event ‘Colourful Phuket’ indefinitely.
The committee noted they were waiting on further guidelines for adjusting public health and social measures, and were to wait for further announcements by the Centre of COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) before determining which actions are to be taken by provincial order.
The committee recognised that there still were not enough staff to enforce entry requirements to Phuket at the ports on the island, and considered ramping up enforcement of COVID-prevention measures by use of law, charging people who intentionally conceal travel information or provide false information to officers investigating sources of infections by charging them under the Communicable Diseases Act.
Of note, the Phuket Communicable Disease Control Committee yesterday recognised that 70% of a target population of 547,584 were to be vaccinated under the mass-vaccination campaign, giving a total of 383,309 people to be vaccinated through the campaign.
The committee was informed that so far 379,019 people in Phuket were fully vaccinated, marking 69.21% of the target vaccination number now achieved.