Speaking at a live press conference at Vachira Phuket Hospital this morning (Jan 6), Mr Kiatipoom announced that the Ministry of Public Health had raised the COVID-19 alert from Level 3 to Level 4 in response to the growing number of Omicron infections throughout the country.
On a day when Phuket reported 227 new COVID infections, up from 43 on Dec 29, Mr Kiatipoom urged people to refrain from travelling between provinces and to follow the government’s latest catchphrase policy, VUCA (Vaccine, Universal Prevention, COVID Free Setting, ATK testing).
Mr Kiatipoom pointed out that the number of new infections had risen sharply. “As of January 4, there were approximately 3,800 confirmed cases of [Omicron], and as of January 5 there were 5,775 cases,” he said.
“The number of severe cases and deaths has decreased in the current COVID-19 epidemic, but the number of infected people has increased dramatically," Dr Kiatipoom said.
“Therefore, The Ministry of Public Health has announced to raise the COVID-19 alert level from Level 3 to 4, which will follow measures such as closing places at risk of spreading the disease, increasing the safety measures at risk locations, slowing down travel across provinces, limiting the number of people allowed at gatherings and to refrain from holding activities where people gather in order to reduce the spread of the disease” he said.
Prolonged periods in enclosed spaces such as restaurants, pubs, at events and traveling back to hometowns during the New Year were factors that assisted the spread of infections, Mr Kiatipoom said.
“The Ministry of Public Health requests that people returning from other provinces self-monitor for symptoms for at least 14 days and work from home for the first week, particularly those who traveled by public transportation for more than four hours or who were traveling in crowded places,” he said.
People returning from interprovincial travel should be tested by antigen test kits [ATK] at least twice, three days apart, he added.
“To slow the spread of infections, the MOPH said that indoor venues would be required to close. The gatherings or events must limit the number of participants and we also ask to slow down travel across provinces,” he repeated.
Mr Kiatipoom said that the MOPH has instructed the Provincial Communicable Disease Control Committee in each area designated an “Orange” control area to use law enforcement strictly to curtail the spread of infections.
“Legal action will be taken if an infected person is a case who was drinking in a pub or restaurant that does not follow the COVID-Free Setting,” he said.