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Chief medical inspector counters CBC’s Belanger sisters’ death report

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Chief medical inspector counters CBC’s Belanger sisters’ death report | Thaiger

PHUKET: The chief medical inspector called in to investigate the mysterious deaths of Canadian sisters Noemi and Audrey Belanger on Phi Phi Island in 2012 has dismissed reports that said the sisters died from poisoning from a specific pesticide.

The news follows a report by Canadian news network CBC quoting Dr Pasakorn Akarasewi as saying, “The most likely explanation is the acute intoxication and it is intoxication from the chemical that belongs to the pesticide group [story here].” CBC proceeded with an in-depth report about a single pesticide, aluminum phosphide, being the possible cause. Aluminum phosphide is used to control bedbugs in some hotels.

Yet Dr Pasakorn, Director of the Bureau of Epidemiology at the Ministry of Public Health’s Department of Disease Control, told the Phuket Gazette in an exclusive interview that he did not affirm the cause of death and did not believe aluminum phosphide was a factor.

“All I said to the media was that the most likely explanation was acute intoxication from a chemical belonging to the pesticide group. We do not know exactly which one.

“DEET was the only chemical we could find in the two sisters’ bodies, according to the autopsy report,” he said. “But the bodies were sent to Canada a long time ago and we have not been able to further investigate the case.

“I have no idea how aluminum phosphide came up in the CBC report. To my knowledge it came from the Canadian side, as they have been talking about it. According to our report, there was no such chemical found in the women’s bodies,” Dr Pasakorn explained.

The Belanger sisters were found dead in their room at the Phi Phi Palms Residence on June 15, 2012, covered in vomit, with similar signs of trauma on their bodies and blue fingernails and toenails (story here).

Initial autopsies conducted by forensic police in Thailand identified undisclosed amounts of DEET in the women’s systems. Those results were refuted by Quebec coroners, who then conducted secondary autopsies (story here).

“I was not here when the case happened, but I am aware of it,” said Col Phrutthipong Nutchanart, who took up the post of Krabi City Police Superintendent little over a month ago.

“There was the initial theory the women drank a cocktail spiked with DEET, then the theory the women were poisoned by some pesticide in their hotel room, but we do not know how the chemical got into their bodies,” Col Phrutthipong said.

“I have spoken with the case investigators and forensic police, and the general consensus is that the women suffered a severe allergic reaction to some chemical, exposure to which might be tolerated by other people.”

Col Phrutthipong pointed out that the case was closed before his arrival (story here) and said that any further comment about the case must be from the Belanger family or the Canadian Embassy.

“We do not know what exactly killed the sisters. The cause of death in the police report to the embassy remains listed as ‘unknown’,” he stated.

“This has left us with very little to move forward on. We cannot stage a special campaign or crackdown on chemicals used in Krabi when we do not know exactly which chemical killed the sisters or how they came to ingest it,” he added.

Weerapong Dollar, chief of the Disease Control Department at the Krabi Public Health Office, concurred.

“When we were notified about the deaths, we went to the hotel room with police and forensic police to inspect the scene and the bodies, but we found no traces of chemicals at above-normal levels that could have caused death,” said Dr Weerapong.

“As we do not know what killed the Belanger sisters, all we can do is continue with our regular health campaign.”

— Irfarn Jumdukor

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Chiang Mai

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

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Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | Thaiger

The TAT, ever the optimists regarding anything tourism related, even domestic tourism, predict that the Bangkok clusters that have emerged in the week before the Songkran break could reduce traffic and spending by up to half.

Today the CCSA is reporting 789 new infections and one additional death. 522 were local infections, mostly walk-ins to Bangkok hospitals, 259 were discovered through track and tracing. The remaining 8 were found in quarantine from overseas arrivals. In Phuket, another 17 cases have been reported today, taking the island’s week total to 43.

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | News by ThaigerGRAPH: Worldometer figures for Thailand, up to April 9

A 68 year old man from Nakhon Pathom province died on April 4 but wasn’t reported until today. The CCSA report that he died from Covid and “complications”. 33 other former patients have recovered and been discharged.

Last week the TAT estimated 3.2 million domestic trips would circulate 12 billion baht for the Thai economy. But the Tourism Authority has now slashed their estimates by half after hotels, airlines and bus companies reported mass cancellations in the last few days. Other provinces are reporting less than 20% cancellations. Although this weekend will see a lot of travel, Songkran doesn’t formally start until next Tuesday and the TAT expect there could be additional fallout as travellers decide to have a staycation for Songkran instead heading home.

Bangkok Post reports that 70% of travellers to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Hua Hin have already cancelled hotel bookings. Similar cancellations have been reported in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Many other provinces, particularly in the north east and north, are also enforcing quarantine on arrivals or additional paperwork to try and protect their provinces from any of the Bangkok clusters.

8 north eastern provinces rare now requiring 10 or 14 day quarantine periods for anyone arriving from areas where new clusters have been reported. Chiang Mai provincial officials say that tourists from Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi – basically Bangkok and surrounding provinces – must complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine or conduct a test for Covid when they arrive.

The reality is that the travel and quarantine changes are outstripping the ability to communicate them all. Anyone crossing into other provinces in the next few day, especially if you’re travelling from Bangkok and surrounding provincial ‘red zones’ can expect some additional paperwork or a Covid test. Or even quarantine.

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Education

Phuket student protests and is flunked as “not loyal to the nation”

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Phuket student protests and is flunked as “not loyal to the nation” | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Student protests led to one student not graduating due to being “not loyal to the nation, institution of the monarchy”

After participating in protests for student’s rights, a Phuket student was barred from graduating 9th grade, moving from middle school to high school, charged with being “not loyal to the nation, institution of the monarchy”. The student had advocated against mandatory uniforms and for student’s liberties. He told reporters that the school started paying attention to his actions last year when he participated in rallies in solidarity with students across Thailand. The school’s student affairs office received a copy of posts he made on social media encouraging others to join the cause. The school ordered a stop to his political actions, but he and his friends disregarded warnings and violated school rules when they handed out white ribbons to classmates. They received a warning from the student affairs office.

Student protests have increased after pro-democracy demonstrations surged in July last year, empowering many Thai people to speak out against injustices, including students’ rights and liberties. People from schools across the nation have been banding together in solidarity to bring their issues to public light.

On graduation day, all the students were promoted into high school, except for the one student protestor, says the Bad Student protest group. The theme of the day focused on dedication to the monarchy, country and religion, and specifically how students should be obedient. The student said he has received support from friends, but his parents remain neutral and his teachers have been completely silent on the matter. He is frustrated that he was punished for his right to express himself. He plans on testing with incoming students to re-enrol in the same school, and if he is not accepted because of the disloyalty charge, he will pursue legal ramifications, suing the school for blocking his right to an education over the student’s protests.

The student believes he needs to speak out to prevent school administrators from imposing on more students’ rights. He advocates for diversity in schools and ending prejudices, with increased liberties and freedoms for students.

“Schools must teach children to be able to think by themselves, not force children to think like them. Schools should create opportunities for students to express their ideas more freely.”

SOURCE: Prachatai

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

16 more Covid infections reported today in Phuket

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16 more Covid infections reported today in Phuket | Thaiger
iTrip.com

Phuket is reporting 16 more infections today. It follows visits from Bangkok and last weekend’s Kolour Beachside parties that have resulted in a number of new Covid infections. The number of new infections has reached 26. But deputy governor Vikrom Jakthee says the province has been successful in containing the new outbreak “due to its quick response measures which now include shuttering bars and nightlife venues.

One of the confirmed cases is a male teacher from Headstart International School in Kathu who, after attending the parties on the weekend, was back teaching students on Monday and Tuesday. The school has sent a letter to all parents advising them of the situation and organising testing for anyone who may have come in contact with the teacher.

The closure order in Phuket comes just as the island province was expecting to get an influx of visitors for Songkran, the Thai New Year. Many bar and club owners were expecting some increased traffic during the holiday week. Phuket officials say they will explain to bar and club owners why they decided to close the venues during the critical week for business.

Vikrom previously cited the start of the island’s Covid vaccine roll-out of Covid starting to head towards a herd immunity in time for the province’s proposed July reopening to international tourists. But he admitted that the sudden appearance of the coronavirus on the island again will force officials to reevaluate the schedule for reopening. He also said that almost all cases were in younger age groups of people in their 20s and 30s.

“Today, the number of infected people reported in Phuket has reached 26, many are from entertainment venues. This figure is relatively high. It jumped from 10 to 26 cases. We will invite operators of entertainment places in for discussions.”

Partygoers who went to any of the Kolour Beachside parties in Phuket last weekend are being asked to visit a local hospital for a Covid test. The parties hosted more than 3,000 people, drawing concern after a musician tested positive for Covid-19, having attended all 3 parties. The Phuket Provincial Government and Phuket Provincial Public Health Office released a statement yesterday advising all partygoers to get tested.

“Those who attended the Kolour parties from April 2 to 3 at Shelter Phuket Dance & Night Club in Patong, Cafe Del Mar Phuket in Kamala and Illuzion nightclub on Bangla Road in Patong are asked to get tested.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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