Phuket officials launch mass testing campaign in high-risk communities

STOCK PHOTO: Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration

Proactive mass testing is underway in Phuket communities with high infection rates, as officials attempt to curtail the spread of Covid-19 on the southern island. The Bangkok Post reports that 9 comprehensive Covid-19 response teams have been dispatched to the target areas. Provincial chief health officer Kusak Kukiattikun says the teams will use antigen test kits in an active case-finding operation over 3 days.

Kusak says officials on the island are concerned about the surge in cases, with daily new infections over 200 and fears that tourism could be affected. Yesterday, Phuket reported 242 new cases.

“Since July, the number of new infections has continued to rise due to the Delta variant. Phuket is a tourist destination. We can’t simply stop the people from visiting. Among them were migrant workers, so a mass screening test programme is needed before more patients fill up hospital beds and seriously affect the Phuket Sandbox.”

According to the Bangkok Post report, Phuket has welcomed over 30,000 tourists since it launched its sandbox re-opening programme on July 1. Yongyot Thammawut from the Public Health Ministry says of that number, only 96 tested positive for Covid-19 during their time on the island.

Yongyot says the proactive mass testing will target around 25,000 people, adding that officials have also set up a testing centre in the town hall, where people who’ve had a positive result from an antigen test can get a PCR test. He is hopeful the outbreak can be brought under control within the next 2 weeks.

“Covid-19 vaccination, particularly in the migrant worker population, is also being accelerated as part of the effort to contain the outbreak and restore confidence in the safety of Thailand’s tourism re-opening.”

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SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Maya Taylor

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