The Phuket Sandbox project will continue despite the discovery of six Covid-19 infected tourists within the past 12 days after reopening the island at the start of this month, Phuket authorities confirmed yesterday, July 12th.
Phuket deputy governor Piyapong Chuwong revealed at a press conference that since the opening of Phuket Sandbox, there have been 4,568 tourists arriving on the island until July 11th, averaging 5-6 flights per day. The total number of SHA Plus accommodation bookings has reached 174,501 nights so far, meaning that there are more potential tourists coming and supporting the Phuket Sandbox project.
“Even though some tourists have been found infected with Coronavirus, the measures to prevent widespread infection that has been planned prior to the island reopening are implemented and the situation is still under control. The discovery of infected patients did not stop the project at all,” the deputy governor stated.
Provincial public health chief Kusak Kukiatkul added that all of the six infections were reportedly carrying the virus from their countries of origin and were not infected in the Kingdom. They are reported with mild to no symptoms and currently under close observation by medical staff. Any High-risk exposure groups are not yet been found, according to his statement and there is no sign those who tested positive have spread the infections to others. Two of those infected were unvaccinated children.
Kusak noted that if one looked at percentages, 0.13 percent of visitors had tested positive for Covid-19 since the Phuket program began, 0.09 if you took out the unvaccinated children. By all statistical measures, according to Kusak, this was a major success and that wishing for zero cases was a “fantasy” and officials knew that was not going to happen. Kusak stressed that although 6 people had tested positive, 4,562 had not.
“The disease investigation team is tracking for possible close contacts with those infected with Covid-19 and closely monitoring the situation. Meanwhile, everyone should strictly follow Thai health measures, like social distancing and mask-wearing, to help prevent the Covid-19 spread,” he concluded.
Phuket has, however, closed schools as a precaution after reports the two foreign children may have interacted with local children, a decision that was widely lambasted by parents and residents of the island, noting that nearly 70% of the island has now been double vaccinated and that closing schools and businesses at every new “case” was not a good long-term strategy.
A similar program to the Phuket Sandbox in Koh Samui is set to launch in only two days, notes TPN media.
Phuket has also recently beefed up measures around domestic entry to the island to stop the potential spread of Covid-19 from people already in the Kingdom, especially those attempting to leave the Bangkok area due to Covid-19 restrictions such as an overnight curfew and the closure of many business sectors.
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