The “proactive screening campaign”, organised by the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation (PPAO, or OrBorJor), began at Phuket Community Hall in Phuket Town yesterday (May 7), where RRT-PCR test swab samples were taken from more than 300 local residents.
PPAO President Rewat Areerob explained that the campaign is being funded by the National Health Security Office (NHSO).
“The project is to keep people disease-free and safe by making sure people at risk receive prompt diagnosis and treatment, and helps to build confidence among local residents and tourists in Phuket,” he said.
“This third wave of COVID-19 is highly infectious. It is quick to infect and difficult to treat. If we do not screen people within the province or focus on risk groups made known by timelines [of movements of people now confirmed as infected with COVID-19], the infections may spread.
“Therefore, we must quickly manage to find the vulnerable group as soon as possible,” he added.
The “proactive screening” in communities will continue until May 15, Mr Rewat said.
“If there is a trend [of rising number of infections] in many districts, we will have to extend the screening, but if the number of infections falls we will bring the porject to a close,” he explained.
INFECTIONS LOW, BUT IN FLUX
The campaign launch comes after Phuket recorded only five new confirmed infections on thursday, but 10 new infections yesterday (May 7).
According to the Phuket Public Health Office (PPHO) the 10 new COVID-19 cases bring the total number of people confirmed as infected in Phuket since Apr 3 to 508.
The number of people from other provinces brought to Phuket to be treated for symptoms of COVID-19 has also risen, to six.
The PPHO reports that 308 patients have so far recovered and been discharged from medical care. The remaining 206 patients are still receiving at various hospitals, including government, private and ‘Field Hospitals’.
The information was marked as accurate as of 6pm last night (May 7).
Meanwhile, the rapid antigen testing of people arriving to enter the province continues, with medical officers yesterdaу testing 340 people at the airport, 2,216 people at the Phuket Gateway and 776 people at the Phuket Check Point at Tha Chatchai. All 3,332 rapid tests gave negative results.
In total, medical officers at the entry points to Phuket have tested 45,897 people since the campaign began on Apr 22. During this period officials recorded 23 positive results, with five of them later determined to be ‘false positives’.
As confirmed by Governor Narong Wonciew yesterday, from May 15 there will no longer be any rapid antigen tests for people arriving on the island from ‘red zone’ provinces.
If the arrival cannot prove they are fully vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of arriving, they will be required to observe a 14-day quarantine “at their own residence or hotel at their own expense”.
The community COVID test campaign yesterday was also held at Laem Tukkae on Koh Siray, on the east side of Phuket Town, where health personnel and medical staff from Vachira Phuket Hospital held a vaccination outreach clinic.
The village is home to one of the largest communities of Urak Lawoi sea gypsies in the country, today with some 1,600 residents living in an estimated 343 households in the village.
At least 311 people in the village received their first vaccination injection yesterday, reported the PPAO.
The villagers will receive their second vaccination injection on May 30, the report added.
“This is the first community visited by public health workers to provide the COVID-19 vaccination service to the community,” Mr Rewat noted.
“The Chao Lay [sea gypsies] do not have access to technology and social media, and may not understand the language [Thai]. So the PPHO, Vachira Phuket Hospital and health volunteers have come to provide help to people in the area. The villagers themselves are very cooperative with vaccination efforts,” he said.
“Everyone is enthusiastic. They know that getting vaccinated helps prevent serious symptoms if they contract COVID-19, which their community leaders have communicated to them all along,” he added.
A separate vaccination outreach clinic was also held yesterday at Wat Mongkol Nimit on Thepkrasattri Rd in Phuket Town, where 262 monks, nuns and laymen working in temples in Phuket were vaccinated for COVID-19.
Among those present were monks, nuns and laymen from Baan Manik temple in Cherng Talay, Wat Thepwanaram in Srisoonthorn, Wat Kathu and Wat Ketho, also in Kathu.