Connect with us

Phuket

Doubt lingers over Legionnaire’s “outbreak’ claims

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published 

 on 

Doubt lingers over Legionnaire’s “outbreak’ claims | The Thaiger
  • follow us in feedly

PATONG: Reports in the Finnish press of Legionnaire’s Disease being contracted by a group of tourists staying at a hotel in Patong have yet to be confirmed, as tests are still being conducted by the Phuket Provincial Health Office (PPHO), Ministry of Public Health and the World Health Organization.

As of press time, no proof of the bacteria Legionella has been found at the Phuket Grand Tropicana Hotel, where a group of Finnish tourists stayed during a November holiday. In its most common form, the disease presents itself between two and 10 days after exposure.

However, it is still unknown if the tourists were staying at the hotel at the time of their exposure.

The Gazette has also been unable to confirm in how many patients Legionella has been isolated or who did the lab work.

Despite repeated inquiries, the management at the Phuket Grand Tropicana remained unavailable for comment. On condition of anonymity, however, a representative said, “It doesn’t mean that we have the disease here, only that some guests [who contracted it] stayed here.

“It happened in November. Right now we still have guests as normal. An officer from the Health Department in Bangkok has already checked the problem here, so please contact them directly,” the representative said.

Dr Wanchai Sattayawuthipong, Chief of the PPHO, told the Gazette that his agency reported the matter to the National Health Department (NHD), which sent officers to the site on January 12 to take air and water samples. The results have not yet been released, he added.

Pamuke Atchariyachai, Honorary Consul-General for Phuket by the Republic of Finland and Managing Director of the Kata Group of hotels and resorts, told the Gazette that he has not received any other reports of the disease in Phuket.

The Finnish Public Health institute reported January 9 that four tourists – two Swedish, one Finnish and one Norwegian – were hospitalized with pneumonia, a common presentation of the disease.

It also reported that Finnish tour operator Aurinkomatkat has withdrawn all of its guests from the hotel. The Hong Kong government has also issued a travel advisory for Phuket.

K. Pamuke urges tourists and residents to remain calm. “For tourists, please understand that this disease is very rare,” he said, adding that he hopes the Tourism Authority of Thailand moves swiftly in taking steps to set the record straight.

He added that he has heard no reports of tourists canceling vacations because of this scare.

Legionnaire’s Disease is a water-borne bacteria spread primarily through air conditioning units, fountains or humidifiers. Once embedded in the fabric fibers of a building, complete disinfection is required for its eradication. The disease does not, however, spread through human-to-human contact.

An engineering supervisor at the Grand Tropicana, who also spoke on condition that his name not be used because of the hotel’s policy against speaking to the press, said that the air conditioners at the hotel are cleaned every month and have been cleaned as per schedule since the guests checked out.

About half of the rooms in the hotel use central air conditioning through a large unit, while the remainder have individual room units.

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Phuket. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Phuket

Phuket’s annual vegetarian festival gets the green light – VIDEO

Caitlin Ashworth

Published

on

Phuket’s annual vegetarian festival gets the green light – VIDEO | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Caitlin Ashworth

WARNING: The content below contains photos and videos of self-mutilation that some may find disturbing.

Somehow Phuket’s annual vegetarian festival is to go ahead next month, but officials say they will ask participants to strictly observe social distancing. Good luck with that! For those who don’t know, the festival isn’t exactly known for the food. It’s known for blood, body mutilation and more blood.

During street processions for the weeklong event, also known as the Nine Gods Festival, so called “mah songs” are known to practice self-mutilation and are said to enter a trance-like state, channeling spirits through their body. “Mah” means horse in Thai, and many suggest the mah song acts like a horse for the spirit to ride.

Many mah songs pierce their checks, ears and lips, some with large swords and thick needles. Some slice their tongues continuously for hours, blood dripping down on the street. Others appear to be in a trace walk barefoot as firecrackers explode on the ground.

Mah songs march down Phuket’s streets for hours with a team of devotees to help tend to their wounds, adjust the piercings, wipe away drool and blood, and keep them hydrated. It’s understood that devotees wear white as a symbol of purity. It’s also reported that they abstain from eating meat, drinking alcohol and having sex during the weeklong festival.

It seems gruesome, but it’s actually very spiritual. Business owners and locals line the street, some setting up altars. Mah songs stop at each one and do a quick ritual. Some mah songs carry a black flag, waving it over onlookers who bow their heads and place their hands in the “wai” position. Some spend time blessing the elderly and handing out bracelets to children. During a procession last year, a woman held up a bracelet as said “the ‘Spirit’ gave this to my mother.”

This year, the festival will have to be a little different to abide by coronavirus prevention measures. The Bangkok Post says it’s the first festival since the outbreak. The head festival organiser Prasert Fukthongphol says “we will seriously enforce social distancing measures and require all participants to wear face masks.”

The grotesque piercings, noisy parades and visits to the shrine, are good news for Phuket’s tourism and bad news if you’re a vegetable. Many adherents to the Chinese-heritage local festival will go without sex, alcohol and meat for the week of so of the festival. The week of events and ceremonies hopes to scare away the bad gods again but, especially this year, attract some extra visitors to the festival.

Another Vegetarian Festival in Chon Buri has also been given the green light. The event is planned for October 16 to the 26. This year’s main event for the festival will be in Naklua at Sawangboriboon Thammasathan Foundation at the Sein Sua Chinese Temple, but many other events will be around the city throughout the week.

Phuket's annual vegetarian festival gets the green light - VIDEO | News by The Thaiger

Phuket's annual vegetarian festival gets the green light - VIDEO | News by The Thaiger

Phuket's annual vegetarian festival gets the green light - VIDEO | News by The Thaiger

Phuket's annual vegetarian festival gets the green light - VIDEO | News by The Thaiger

Phuket's annual vegetarian festival gets the green light - VIDEO | News by The Thaiger

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Pattaya News

Catch up with the latest daily “Thailand News Today” here on The Thaiger.

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.
Continue Reading

Phuket

Officials says no illegal land encroachment at Phuket’s Sri Panwa resort

Maya Taylor

Published

on

Officials says no illegal land encroachment at Phuket’s Sri Panwa resort | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sri Panwa Phuket Resort - Sri Panwa Phuket

After coming in for some negative online attention recently, the land title deeds of the Sri Panwa Phuket resort have been investigated and found “to be in order”. The 5-star hotel first attracted the attention of netizens when its owner, Vorasit Issara, publicly criticised anti-government activist Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, calling for her arrest. He also claimed she wasn’t Thai, a factually wrong and inflammatory statement.

His Instagram tirade prompted outrage from those who support the current protest movement, with netizens calling for a boycott of his property and leaving several negative comments on various review sites. Trip Advisor suspended the hotel’s account due to the online attack.

Shortly after, the Civil Society for State Welfare called on the Social Security Office to clarify its investment in the resort’s trust fund. This was echoed by at least one opposition MP and anti-corruption activists.

Responding to the land rights issue, the Phuket Land Office has issued a statement to say the hotel does not occupy state land. The resort stands on 56 rai of prime real estate, overlooking Phuket’s south-eastern coast. The land office has confirmed its paperwork is all in order.

Meanwhile, it’s understood Charn Issara Development, owners of the property, have threatened to sue the resort’s critics for defamation.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

Catch up with the latest daily “Thailand News Today” here on The Thaiger.

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.
Continue Reading

Economy

70% of Phuket’s tourism businesses are closed, many for good

Caitlin Ashworth

Published

on

70% of Phuket’s tourism businesses are closed, many for good | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO

Most tourism businesses in Phuket have closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and they probably won’t be up and running again until foreign tourists are let back in Thailand. Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew says around 70% of tourism businesses have closed, most of them just temporarily, but some have shut down permanently. But the statistics are not quite that simple, with the east side of the island, largely inhabited by locals with the central business district of Phuket Town and some of the more popular expat towns, doing far better than the tourist magnets of the west coast. The Thaiger estimates that on the west coast the number would exceed 90%.

Before the pandemic, tourism to Phuket brought in 450 billion baht a year with 400 billion baht from foreign visitors while the other 50 billion baht was from domestic tourists. Thailand has been trying to increase domestic tourism to help revive the industry after the pandemic. Phuket’s governor says it helps, but not enough.

“Their visits can help solve some of our economic problems, but they cannot replace the need of foreign tourists.”

66.8% of tourism businesses in Phuket have closed temporarily while 2.8% have closed permanently, according to data by the Digital Economy Promotion Agency. (Again the percentage along the west coast is MUCH higher – just take a drive through Paton, Kat, Karon). Phuket’s governor is trying figure out how to recover the economy. And fast.

“By the end of September, the number of businesses to be closed will increase up to 70% for sure.”

While many businesses are closed, the governor says Phuket is “almost 100% ready to welcome foreign tourists.” The governor says he can’t give an answer to when foreign tourists will arrive in Phuket, but he claims they’ve “prepared every step,” from checking in at the airport to hotel quarantine. They’re just going to install some new temperature check machines at the Phuket International Airport and review the procedures for welcoming the tourists.

“We have to work and prepare carefully to welcome foreign tourists… We have to gradually open our door to welcome small groups of people first, in order to test our system, and then open for bigger groups.”

At the moment, only 3 venues in Phuket have been approved to operate as alternative state quarantine facilities. Anantara Phuket Suites & Villas has 100 rooms available, Anantara Mai Khao Phuket has 36 villas and Trisara resort has 15 villas. All are 5 star venues with a commensurate 5 star cost.

SOURCE: Phuket News

Catch up with the latest daily “Thailand News Today” here on The Thaiger.

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.
Continue Reading
Follow The Thaiger by email:

Trending