The move was confirmed at a meeting of Phuket Communicable Disease Committee held at the EOC Command Center chaired by Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew yesterday (July 14), said a report by the Phuket Provincial Public Health Office (PPHO).
Also present were Phukt Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong and key island health officials PPHO Chief Dr Kusak Kukiattikoon and Dr Chalermpong Sukontapol, Director of Vachira Phuket Hospital in Phuket Town, the main government hospital on the island.
At the meeting it was agreed to have soldiers from the 41st Military Circle stationed at the checkpoint for three months, possibly even longer through rotation.
However, it was made clear that any soldier used to support officers at the checkpoint must be vaccinated, test negative for COVID-19 and be on Phuket at least 14 days before being assigned to man the checkpoint.
The Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command based at Cape Panwa had already been tasked to oversee checks at the three main ports (Ao Por Pier, Chalong Pier and Rassada Pier) and five yacht mooring areas in Phuket.
The Navy was also already patrolling the waters around the island in three zones, noted the report. Larger vessels are used to patrol the outside zone; the middle zone is patrolled for checking “precarious points”; and the inner area involves checks at risk locations such as fishing rafts and various water channels.
At the meeting it was revealed that on average 432 people a day had been refused to be allowed onto the island for failing to satisfy the requirements.
The number of people arriving to enter Phuket already had been falling due to the entry requirements, and is expected to fall further due to the higher restrictions for people arriving from 34 provinces that come into effect today (July 15), the meeting noted.
Other measures agreed to help ramp up COVID prevention measures included random inspections conducted on venues regardless of whether the location has been associated with known infections, despite PPHO officials already announcing that they will inspect businesses, shops, schools, mosques and shopping malls until the end of the month.
The meeting was updated on the number of hospital beds available on the island. At present, there are 640 beds available for all types of patients. Of those, 109 beds are occupied, and the remaining 531 beds remain free. Of note, the PPHO as of yesterday (July 14) marked that 76 people were under hospital care or supervision for COVID-19.
The meeting also noted that of 5,156 international arrivals who had entered Phuket under the Phuket Sandbox scheme, 858 were Thai nationals. Of those 14 returned as high-risk contacts.
As of yesterday, the meeting noted that there were seven Phuket Sandbox arrivals who had tested positive for COVID-19. All seven were in local quarantine and waiting for results of a second test.
Governor Narong asked all relevant officials to continue to provide regular reports “to support the information aspects of Phuket Sandbox.” That included how many people had arrived under the Phuket Sandbox scheme and how many people left early before observing their 14 days on the island.
The meeting was also told that more vaccination doses had been allocated to Phuket by the Ministry of Public Health, with vaccination injections to resume tomorrow (July 16).