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Six months after Thailand’s first COVID case, Phuket holding strong, says island health chief

Six months after Thailand’s first COVID case, Phuket holding strong, says island health chief

PHUKET: Six months since Thailand recorded its first confirmed case of a person infected with COVID-19, Phuket Provincial Health Office (PPHO) Chief Thanit Sermkaew today (July 13) said that efforts across the island to prevent the spread of the disease have worked well, but urged people to keep practicing the ‘new normal’ rules to help stave off a resurgence of the disease.

By The Phuket News

Monday 13 July 2020, 06:49PM

Thailand confirmed its first case on Jan 12. The landmark patient, a 61-year-old Chinese woman living in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, on holiday in the Kingdom.

The woman first developed fever with chills, sore throat and headache while still at home in Wuhan on Jan 5. On Jan 8, she took a direct flight to Thailand from Wuhan City together with five family members in a tour group of 16 people. 

The woman was detected that same day by thermal scanners on landing at Suvarnabhumi International Airport, and was hospitalised the same day.

After a temperature check and initial assessment, she was transferred to the hospital for further investigations and treatment, the World Health Organisation notes in its official report.

As of 1pm today, Thailand’s tally for COVID-19 infections stood at 3,220 confirmed infections, with three new cases (all new arrivals from abroad) with 58 deaths.


The first cases of people in Phuket being infected with COVID-19 did not become public until Mar 20, when Phuket Governor at the time Phakaphong Tavipatana finally admitted that a family of three Danish tourists had been confirmed as infected.

The information was ”volunteered” only after Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paochinda asked the Governor during a live teleconference in front of reporters on Mar 17 about a family of three Danish tourists who had been confirmed as infected with the virus.

Gen Anupong had already been briefed on the Danish tourists. He explained that he had been told that the Danish tourists had started developing symptoms during their second night staying in Phuket and told a friend back home they were concerned they might have contracted the virus.

A friend suggested that they report themselves, Gen Anupong said.

Only on being asked by the General, Governor Phakaphong said that the family had notified staff at the hotel, who in turn arranged for the family to be taken into medical care and be tested.

After several tests to confirm the results, the family tested positive for the virus, he admitted.

Governor Phakaphong also finally admitted that there have been previous cases of people in Phuket confirmed as being infected with the virus.

The other two were both Chinese tourists from Wuhan, one of them 32 years old, the other 35 years old.

Governor Phakaphong declined to give any further details about the cases involving the Chinese tourists, such as when and where they were identified as infected with the virus, where they were taken for treatment, and when they left the island.

The Danish family brought the total number of people confirmed as being infected in Phuket to five, he said.

The next day, Mar 21, Governor Phakaphong announced two more infections, and the number of confirmed infections started rising daily, albeit with people confirmed as infected on the same day not being publicly reported until different days later.


In the three months since those first cases were publicly recognised, Phuket has since tallied a total of 227 confirmed infections, said the Phuket office of the Public Relations Department (PR Phuket) in its daily report posted today (July 13).

The report today notes as follows:

New cases: 0

Total infected: 227

Recovered: 223

Dead: 3 (as a direct result of being infected with COVID-19)

+ 1 (a Hungarian tourist who was confirmed as infected with COVID-19 but died as a result from injuries sustained in a motorbike accident)

People deemed ’at risk’ checked:14091

Persons Under Investigation: 13,861

Waiting for test results: 3

Receiving hospital treatment: 3

With the report marked as accurate as of 24:00hrs July 12, it has now been 50 days since the last case was confirmed in Phuket, said the report. However, The Phuket News notes that the last reported case was announced on May 24.


“We are doing well. So far we have not experienced a second wave, and that will remain unlikely while people are following new normal and we do not have any foreigners, tourists or migrant workers arriving from abroad,” Dr Thanit told The Phuket News today. 

“Most important is people following the new normal, especially medical workers, those in hospitals and even rescue workers. Even though we have not had any new cases, we need people to continue following the new normal health rules to help prevent any unknown infections from spreading,” he added.

Regarding protecting Phuket from infections arriving via the so-called “travel bubbles” that have yet to materialise into actual tourist arrivals, Dr Thanit said, “Everything we do is up to the CCSA [the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration in Bangkok].

“Right now we cannot be sure exactly what measures they will instruct me to enforce. We have to observe the situation day by day.

However, Dr Thanit was adamant about one factor: “All international arrivals will be test by swab tested before being allowed onto the island.”

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Kurt | 16 July 2020 - 10:13:55

@Lalala, You are correct when it comes to older age groups. However, it is now well known that many people without pre-existing conditions are found to have these 'conditions' after recovering from Covid-19.

ThorFinger | 15 July 2020 - 21:22:22

we will need to wear masks as a precautionary measure when international tourism restarts and if the authorities fail in their job of testing at our borders. 

ThorFinger | 15 July 2020 - 21:13:40

lala you're quite correct. Kurt it is a coronavirus like many others and generally acts in the same manner. It's not a mystery.  Fascinated the masks are only useful (maybe) when there are actually coronavirus'. The virus only lives for 2-3 days in most cases and up to 19 days in a lab. There is absolutely no reason to be wearing them when the virus has been dead for 2 months! 

LALALA | 15 July 2020 - 09:56:32

Kurt... most people in ICUs had pre existing conditions related to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases etc. which exactly effects the organs you mentioned.  

Christy Sweet | 15 July 2020 - 08:39:16

Great reporting, thank you for it!!

Kurt | 15 July 2020 - 00:27:17

'We' still not know much of Covid-19. We are learning now that after recovering from ICU's,  patients keep having health problems.( heart, liver, kidneys, veins).  So far Thailand did well with face masks, social distance,  lock downs. ( just forget a moment the unneeded stupid Egyptian soldiers plane affair, which was not according the 'new Government normal').

CaptainJack69 | 14 July 2020 - 11:33:29

In my experience most people on Phuket have been wearing masks. But I am now in Khao Lak for a few days and driving around Phang Nga and I can tell you that virtually no one is wearing them up here.

LALALA | 14 July 2020 - 09:37:02

And this is very good Fascinated... the people are simply sick and tired from wearing face masks at beaches, gyms, riding on a motorbike etc. etc. which is all complete nonsense. 

Fascinated | 13 July 2020 - 19:05:51

Unfortunately complacancy seems to be sinking in. Probably 60% of the people I saw around Kamala today were not wearing masks. The way tobeat this is to stay protected for as long as possible. Whether or not YOU believe in masks set an example and wear them please.


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