New COVID-19 Outbreak In Struggling Phuket

People In Phuket Wait To Be Vaccinated
People wait to be vaccinated against COVID-19 at a gymnasium in Saphan Hin, in Phuket.

Phuket, which is trying to battle back from its COVID-19-triggered economic problems, has been hit by a new bunch of infections, many linked to bars both locally and one in the Thong Lor area of Bangkok.

On Wednesday, the tourist-dependent island reported 8 new cases, 4 of which were related to entertainment venues, said Kusak Kukiatkul, chief of the Phuket provincial public health department

Among the 4 patients linked to entertainment venues, one had visited a bar in Thong Lor and the local authority has ordered that 12 people who had close contact with that patient be quarantined and monitored. The other 3 had visited local bars.

Four other cases, including a child aged 9, involve local people, said Mr Kukiatkul, and local health officials are trying to find out how and where they became infected.

All 8 patients have been hospitalised and are under close monitoring.

Phuket governor Narong Woonciew said local health officials had already inspected the local bars visited by the three local patients and had ordered them to shut and be thoroughly cleaned.

“We have ordered local police and officials to enforce tough laws on entertainment venues that violate COVID-19 preventive legal measures,” Mr Woonciew said, adding that since COVID-19 erupted in early 2020, Phuket had ordered two bars to stay closed for five years, as well as fining and temporarily shutting several others.

The governor urged people who had visited pubs and bars to self-quarantine, and go to the hospital immediately if they had unusual symptoms.

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He insisted that his provincial administration had stepped up measures to monitor travellers from other provinces entering the province either by land, sea or air.

Meanwhile, Thanes Supornsahasrungsri, president of the Chon Buri Tourism Council, feared a new wave of infections there would affect the province’s tourism sector despite no holidaymakers having yet cancelled their plans to visit.

Mr Supornsahasrungsri asked the government to vaccinate 70% of health workers, tourism employees and other workers in Chon Buri.

He said that while Pattaya is reporting 60% hotel occupancy for Songkran next week, the town still depended greatly on foreign tourists.

The town’s major foreign market, China, is currently not allowing people to travel abroad because of its lockdown policy, he said, while another major source of tourists, India, is dealing with its own escalating COVID-19 crisis.

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