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Phuket eyes lifting restrictions on Tambons that are virus-free for 14 days



PHOTO: The Phuket News

Phuket’s outgoing governor Pakkapong Tawipat recently extended emergency measures in the southern province until April 30, including severe travel restrictions on the island. Now there is speculation the incoming governor, Narong Namsouw, currently the governor of the northeastern Chaiyaphum province, will extend them, though there has been no confirmation of this.

Governor Pakkapong says the provincial government is seeking opinions from all quarters about the possibility of reopening some of the island’s 17 tambons, or subdistricts, once they are free of new Covid-19 cases for 14 days.

Phuket has the highest rate of Covid-19 cases per capita in Thailand, and the highest number outside of Bangkok (197 as of today), but numbers have dropped dramatically, with only 5 new cases reported in the last week, and the recovery rate is high at well over 65%. Currently, medical and public health concerns remain in the Patong and Bang Tao subdistricts, where infections remain highest.

Pakkapong announced yesterday that he has assigned the Prince of Songkla University to collect opinions from all sectors of society, hinting that areas with no new cases for two weeks, of which there are many, could have Tambon restrictions lifted.

Right now, it is at the stage that Phuket Provincial Government is listening to opinions from all parts. We will make a proposal to the Phuket Communicable Disease Committee, but any steps must comply with the state of emergency and various measures of the National Communicable Disease Committee.”

Phuket provincial public health chief Thanit Sermkaew says easing measures to prevent the spread of the virus can only happen if no infected persons are found in a subdistrict for 14 days.

“That seems like a safe time, but if we’re to be really safe and confident, 28 days would be better under the ‘new lifestyle’ that’s being enforced during the outbreak.”

“You can see that in all 17 tambons in Phuket, there are some tambons that have reported no infections for 14 days. 8 tambons are still in a “red condition” and need to be monitored. Currently, there are still infected people in Patong and Bang Tao. We have to start counting from the day a case is found for another 14 days. In other tambons I think it’s possible to unlock the areas by the end of April since no infection has been found for more than 14 days.”

SOURCE: Phuket People’s Voice


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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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