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Phuket calls for immediate government help over coronavirus impact

Greeley Pulitzer

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Phuket calls for immediate government help over coronavirus impact | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Phuket Chamber of Commerce President Thanusak Phungdet details the problems Phuket faces as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak - Phuket Chamber of Commerce
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Phuket’s Chamber of Commerce has asked the Thai govenment for swift action to help cope with the economic impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus, particularly on tourism. According to Chamber president Thanusak Phungdet:

“I explained to Tourism Committee President Surasak Phanchalernworakul about the situation and how coronavirus is affecting tourism and business in Phuket. I requested them to share this information with the PM and other relevant officers in Parliament. The situation is much worse than the government knows.”

Thanusak told reporters that he met yesterday with Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee on Tourism and Phuket MP Nattee Thinsakhu; Thai Hotels Association Vice President Kongsak Khoopongsakorn; Phuket Tourism Council President Sarayut Mallam, and other Phuket tourism industry representatives to try to find a solution to crisis.

“The Phuket private sector has been massively impacted by COVID-19. I’m not sure if the Government is aware of the situation as they have not yet visited to see the problems firsthand.”

“It has drastically affected tourism-related businesses. Many staff have been forced to take a pay cut, although the cost of living cost here remains the same. If this situation lasts six to 10 months, Phuket may well become an empty island.”

Thanusak lamented the absence of Chinese tourists, noting that some 20 hotels on the island have “temporarily” closed.

“Many boats and buses are not being used, [and are] parked and empty. Currently we have only 50% of the usual number of European tourists, and it will go down to around 30% next month, and possibly continue to decrease to zero. This situation is out of the hands of the private sector and local administrative officers.”

“We want government support for the tourism sector here, to help unemployed staff and to attract Thai people to come to Phuket in order to support local business and help everyone.”

Thanusak says he has requested help from the Minister of Tourism and wants swift action to safeguard Phuket’s standing as the second highest income-generating province in the country.

“It is worrying that the Government [does] not know the real impact of this bad situation. [The] Government have not yet come to Phuket. It may be because nobody has sent information about the coronavirus and its impact. Governors have to see the truth and listen to people’s complaints.”

As of today, Thailand’s toal confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus remain steady at 35, 17 of whom have made full recoveries and been discharged from hospital. Thailand has reported no fatalities from the virus, and no case has been reported in Phuket.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Crime

Facebook page advocates violence against ‘shit tourists’ in Phuket

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Facebook page advocates violence against ‘shit tourists’ in Phuket | The Thaiger
Spotlight Thailand

Following up from yesterday’s report there has been no action taken to remove a Facebook page advocating violence against “shit tourists” stranded in Phuket. ‘Spotlight Thailand’, usually a ‘whistleblower’ for local corruption and fuelled by the admin’s political views, has nearly 600,000 followers.

Now this week’s posts are going viral, spreading a disturbing message from local Phuket vigilantes that is likely do irreparable harm to the holiday island’s reputation as a safe place to visit in the future. The posts advocate violence against tourists, the ones still stuck on the island, who have been venturing out during curfews or not wearing face masks, and asks followers to take matters into their hands. The thrust of the campaign is that the tourists are ‘partying’ whilst the local Thais suffer.

The posts, perhaps intended as a bad joke, incites local Thais, disgruntled with losing their jobs and being cooped up during curfew hours, to take matters into their own hands and use a slingshot and rocks to ‘pick off’ tourists if seen outdoors.

The disturbing posts, shared and liked thousands of times, started on Monday. The Facebook page posted photos of ‘farang’ tourists driving around or visiting Phuket locations in a ‘shame file’, and calling the page’s followers to shoot them with slingshots.

Followers responded with photos, armed and ready with their own slingshots. There was also, mostly, overwhelming support in the comments under the posts, for the direct citizen action. The general theme of the comments is that ‘white’ or ‘farang’ tourists are responsible for bringing the Covid-19 scourge to Thailand and, therefore, responsible for the economic pain and hardships they are enduring.

This makes me pity myself and my eight employees. We’ve been indoors since March 18, none of us going outside except to get supplies for the 9 of us at Makro. We run a massage shop at Patong, Meanwhile the tourists are having fun.”

Facebook page advocates violence against 'shit tourists' in Phuket | News by The ThaigerFacebook page advocates violence against 'shit tourists' in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

Complaints have been made about the page’s posts to local consulates, the Phuket Governor, and copies of the posts sent to police and government officials in Bangkok. The Thaiger has received hundreds of messages from concerned local expats and worried tourists who have ended up stranded on the island.

One local hotelier called The Thaiger and said that the few tourists they have left at their resort (who were resident before the order to close Phuket’s hotels) said they were “very worried” and were astonished that the locals would want to fire rocks at them.

A consular official contacted us and confirmed they had made representations to Phuket’s Governor about the posts.

The localised outrage and suspicion against ‘farang’ (caucasian westerners) comes weeks after Thailand’s Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, was captured on video threatening to kick out “damn farangs” for not wearing facemasks (when offered to them at a PR event at the Siam BTS station in Bangkok).

He later described Western tourists as “dirty”, asserting that they “never showered” on Twitter. The tweets were deleted but not before they had been shared thousands of times and reported in media around the world.

Thailand, like every other country at the moment, is on ‘pause’ as it battles the Covid-19 gremlins but, at some stage, will re-open and want to welcome back tourists. Tourism accounts for up to 17% of Thailand’s GDP. In places like Pattaya and Phuket, it’s almost the sole driver of the local economies.

These posts, and the simmering anti-foreigner tone, calling on public outbursts of vigilantism will do little to help attract the tourists back to places like Phuket that survive on tourist patronage, and their dollars.

The Thaiger has reached out to the person behind the posts (we’ve interviewed him in the past) but have not yet had a response to our requests for comment.

Facebook page advocates violence against 'shit tourists' in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket’s new cases (Tuesday), all originating from Bangla Road area

The Thaiger

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Phuket’s new cases (Tuesday), all originating from Bangla Road area | The Thaiger

Numbers are out for new cases in Phuket over the past 24 hours.

Case 124: 23 year old Russian women
Case 125: 26 year old Kazakhstan women
Case 126: 28 year old Russian women

All 3 new cases in Phuket had a history of visiting or staying in the Bangla Road entertainment zone for up to a month, and having close contact with tourists. All 3 women were also staying together in an apartment in Patong. All 3 women had shown no symptoms of having the virus and put another 3 people at risk.

There was also another death yesterday – a 25 year old Hungarian man who was in an accident, rushed to Chalong Hospital, and then to Vachira Phuket for surgery, and then doctors finding out that he had been infected with the virus.

In Phuket there are now a total of 126 cases, 1,756 people awaiting test results and considered ‘high risk’, 1,557 people sent back home after testing or treatment and 110 awaiting blood tests.

Phuket's new cases (Tuesday), all originating from Bangla Road area | News by The Thaiger

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Hungarian tourist dies in Phuket after failing to reveal Bangla Road visits

The Thaiger

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Hungarian tourist dies in Phuket after failing to reveal Bangla Road visits | The Thaiger

Dr Chalermpong Sukhonthapol, the director of Phuket’s Vachira Hospital, has revealed details of a Hungarian tourist who recently died of Covid-19, but had earlier withheld details of his visits to the island’s red light district in Bangla Road, Patong.

Bangla Road has been the island’s hotzone for new cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

The case has resulted in more than 100 medical staff being suspended and placed in quarantine as a precaution. Originally the Hungarian man arrived from Malaysia.

Dr Chalermpong reports that the Hungarian man was involved in a traffic incident on March 25 and was admitted to the Chalong Hospital, then later transferred to Vachira Hospital in Phuket Town.

“The patient had numbness and weakness in all limbs. He could talk, but did not mention his activities had put him at risk of Covid-19 infection though being asked.”

He firstly had an operation on his broken neck and spine. He the regained consciousness and was responding well and talking to attending staff.

Then, on March 29, he had a visit from a friend he’d met whilst visiting Bangla Road in Patong.

After some further scrutiny hospital staff found out that the Hungarian had visited Bangla Road and stayed in the area for two weeks. The hospital conducted tests and found the man was infected with the coronavirus.

The Hungarian tourist developed a high fever and breathing difficulties soon after. He died on Friday morning.

“The death of the Hungarian tourist is a shock because he did not report the Covid-19 infection risk in the first place. One hundred and twelve medical personnel who had done their best to save were put at risk because of their contact with him,” Dr Chalermpong told Bangkok Post.

112 at-risk staff are now confined to quarantine for 14 days, some are in home quarantine. 94 have tested negative for the disease, 18 were awaiting test results.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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