With Covid-19 infections surging in Phuket, many have questioned if the Phuket Sandbox scheme would continue or be shut down as the original provisions of the Sandbox said that thresholds like over 90 infections a week could trigger revisions or cancellation of the programme. Now the Deputy Director of the Department of Disease Control has confirmed that, despite the rise in cases, the Phuket Sandbox will continue for at least 2 more weeks.
The Deputy Director met with Phuket officials today and said that in considering the 3 criteria originally set out – if infections rise about 90 per week, if hospitals get about 80% full, or if infections spread to more than 6 neighbourhoods in all the regions of Phuket – the overall conditions are still reasonable to continue under close observation for the next 2 weeks. It is hoped that the new infections will be able to be brought under control without the situation worsening.
He said that while infections are high, Phuket has done a great job on contract tracing with tourists and locals cooperating with health officials to find infections and clusters on the island. So far, hospitals have maintained bed availability with 36% of infections being treated in hospitals, but no delays in getting those in need into medical facilities. The DDC deputy director said it is imperative that people infected have a quarantine room available immediately and so far Phuket is keeping up with demand.
He said officials will watch Phuket for 2 weeks to see if new infections start to fill up quarantine facilities or hospitals, but he maintains hope. He mentioned that while current infections are growing, no one has had to be intubated and put on a ventilator in Phuket. This may be explained by over 70% of residents and all incoming international travellers vaccinated, which lessens the effects for those infected with Covid-19.
Still, each local tambon administration in Phuket has been ordered to identify venues that could be used for local quarantine if cases spike, to add to the 450 rooms currently available. The order comes from Phuket Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong who requested preparation for up to 1,500 quarantine rooms over the next 2 weeks.
The government has hinted that aside from the 2 weeks of observation, they may reconsider domestic travel in Phuket, perhaps limiting the flow of migrant workers in and out of Phuket, or revising the requirements for domestic travellers entering Phuket.
SOURCE: The Phuket News
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