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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Miscommunication over rules sees Thai man angrily footing bill for Covid test in Phuket




After a Thai man’s angry video went viral over allegedly having to pay for a Covid-19 test in order to enter Phuket, the provincial Vice Governor has responded. Piyapong Choowong admitted that the rule for those entering Phuket had recently changed, nixing the requirement of those arriving to undergo a Covid rapid antigen test. The man says he paid 450 baht for the test upon entering the province on Monday. But Piyapong says a provincial order was already in effect on Monday, which should have allowed the man to enter without needing the test or having to foot the bill for it.

But his response only came after Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew had posted about the order that Monday night at 10pm, stating that the new requirements came into effect on Tuesday. The response by Piyapong has confused people as it appears the order was supposedly in effect before it was announced.

Previously, when the rule was in effect for those entering the province to undergo the test, Thais were not required to pay for the test, while foreigners were required to pay 500 baht. The man, who has not been identified, issued several remarks on his video that rapidly spread through social media.

“There are no outsiders wanting to come to Phuket, but also people who have their house in Phuket. If they leave the island, they must pay 450 baht for returning home. What does this mean?”

“We pay taxes. You must arrange government medical staff to provide the test and service us. You can have whatever measures you want, but if you hire an outside source and get money from us, it’s not right.”

“I’m not a Phuket native, but I have to come to Phuket every month. I also came last month. My friend did have the rapid test for free before, but this time we have to pay 450 baht. Then you see me!”

“Don’t need to apologise to me. If we see something wrong, we must speak out. We do not blame the staff, but we need to blame the person who set up the measure. The measure is bad like this, we can’t accept it!”

Piyapong also took to social media yesterday to repeat his explanation of what happened.

“The video of that gentleman who got mad at the Phuket Government for self-paid testing came from May 17 when the private company conducted the tests for the last day. For now, we do not have rapid testing for arrivals at the checkpoint anymore.”

“The stopping of rapid testing did not come because of the video, we had discussed stopping the rapid tests before that. Additionally, the private company staff did not want to conduct the test anymore either.”

“We would like to make our 500,000 people on the island to be safe. Arrivals who come by plane have to be swab tested before getting on board from the departing airport. From April 22 to May 15, we had rapid tests for arrivals at the airport and the checkpoint for free because the cost of the test was supported by the National Health Security Office.”

Piyapong says now arrivals without documents need to self-quarantine for 14 days from May 18. He says the measure would be temporary to control the number of new infections on the island. He noted that the province has seen single-digit number of new infections for several days now. The new entry requirements apply to all people arriving by land, air or sea, but the 14-day quarantine was an option only for those entering by land.

Piyapong says after testing more than 73,000 arrivals, the rapid tests identified just 18 confirmed cases of infection. But he says some who need to travel in and out of the island have voiced their concerns over being more affected by the measures.

“Most people on the island agree with our strict measure….”

SOURCE: The Phuket News


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Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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