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Life of Liberty, after the crash

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Life of Liberty, after the crash | Thaiger

PHUKET: On an island where almost any crash that isn’t fatal is missed in the news, countless personal struggles and victories of the victims of Phuket road accidents are overlooked.

Liberty Jefferson had been an English-language teacher at Kanjonkietsuksa School for three and half years, before her was leg shattered in a motorbike crash.

Heading north on Thepkrasattri Road from Phuket Town, Ms Jefferson realized that she was going the opposite direction of her home, so she stopped at a break in the road to make a u-turn.

“I always get turned around in town! Too many one ways and lack of street signs,” she told the Phuket Gazette.

While she made a u-turn, a pickup truck came speeding through the yellow light, which turned red before the vehicle had left the intersection, and she was hit – hard.

“I turned and just – bash – that was it. I woke up in the ambulance,” she said.

Ms Jefferon’s leg and ankle were broken in six places.

After receiving emergency care, Ms Jefferson stayed on Phuket for two surgeries and two months of bed rest. However, the surgeries were unsuccessful and Ms Jefferson was forced to return home to the US with a crippled foot.

In June, she went to a local medical specialist for a checkup on how her foot was healing.

“They said that they had no good news for me – that actually the bones have not healed properly. My ankle was shattered so badly they had to put this external fixator in to keep the bones stable,” Ms Jefferson said.

“It looks like I will need three further surgical procedures until the leg is fully corrected. If I do not get any financial help from the government here, the cost will be astronomical,” she explained.

Earlier last week Ms Jefferson, family and friends came together in the hopes of raising about US$5,000 at a silent auction and a concert held at a local bar in her hometown of Eugene, Oregon.

“The fundraiser was actually awesome. Way better than I ever expected… such a good turnout, with people I have known for years and total strangers who just wanted to lend their support. We have nearly made our goal of US$5,000,” she told the Gazette.

“Luckily, I did not have to pay for treatment while in Thailand. I was fully covered by my insurance, that is why I did not go home after the first emergency surgery. I thought it would be a better idea to get it taken care of in Phuket, since that is where I had medical coverage,” she explained.

Ms Jefferson, who has no medical insurance in the US, has since been turned away by two government aid programs.

However, she explained, the son of a surgeon that specializes in her type of
injury heard about the fund-raising efforts. The son contacted his father, the surgeon, who has now agreed to see her.

Financially unable to support herself since the accident, Ms Jefferson has relied on family and friends to make ends meet. She currently sleeps on a family friend’s couch and is forced to rely on money her mother gives her each month.

“Until my leg is corrected, it is difficult to stand for a long time or walk any sort of distance. I hobble around, walking on two still-broken bones, always in some sort of pain. And as the weather gets colder, the pain gets worse,” she explained.

Ms Jefferson said that she originally had no intentions of moving back to the US so soon, due to the current state of the economy and the difficulty of finding jobs there.

“I was planning on being abroad for at least another year, possibly more. Despite my accident, I still love Thailand and Phuket,” she said.

“I spent three and half years there and they were some of the best times in my life,” she added.

“I met so many great people, but more importantly I got to teach so many wonderful students. Teaching really made me realize what I want to do long term and regardless of the stresses of work and teaching, it just take one smile or hug from one of my lovely students to make everything better. I miss them a lot. I miss Thailand in general. It is a lovely place,” she said.

Despite her passion for Phuket and Thailand, Ms Jefferson explained that she wished she had been taken to an international hospital instead of a government hospital after the crash.

“I’ve nothing against the government hospitals, it’s just they are way overworked and understaffed. As a foreigner in an emergency situation, in an overcrowded hospital, where you get very little attention, it was just as scary as the accident,” she explained.

Ms Jefferson proposed to the Gazette the idea of having ‘In case of emergency please take me to international hospital‘ on insurance cards in Thai and English for those, who, like herself, are knocked unconscious in an accident.

“Either way, I am lucky and thankful to be alive, Thailand is a wonderful place, and if you have ever thought about teaching before, give it a shot, it’s a wonderful experience,” she said.

“I hope to get healed up and teach again some time soon!”

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

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

Tourism

Phuket’s July Sandbox no-quarantine model “needs a major revamp”

Tim Newton

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Phuket’s July Sandbox no-quarantine model “needs a major revamp” | Thaiger
PHOTO: The monsoon waves are starting to hit Phuket's west coast

Thailand’s Sports and Tourism minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn is acknowledging that Phuket’s ‘Sandbox’ model for a no-quarantine re-opening in July will need “a major revamp”. As the Songkran travel bubble bursts and the monsoon season waves start to roll onto the island’s west coast beaches, Phuket’s scheduled July re-boot suddenly seems a long way off.

Minister Phiphat says he plans to meet with “all related agencies” this week. Apart from the latest national re-surge in new infections, Phuket has been unable to get its hands on sufficient vaccines to meed its deadline of 70% of the island vaccinated by July 1. Thailand’s limited supplies of the vaccine – including some 930,000 doses designated for Phuket – are being rerouted to other provinces as the government prioritises the limited supply.

“We are all concerned about the reopening timeline,” he was quoted in Bangkok Post.

But the Minister did acknowledge that, if the 70% vaccination level couldn’t be met, they may consider opening some areas of the island. Exactly how that would work hasn’t been revealed at this stage.

The minister also brought up the ongoing travel bubble negotiations and says he hadn’t heard back from some of the candidates with their reaction to the current outbreak.

Flights in and out of Phuket Airport’s international terminal have been extremely patchy and the flights from feeder tourist markets will need to co-operate with any re-opening plans.

Phuket, whilst suffering a rise in new infections, hasn’t been hit as hard as some of the other popular holiday provinces, like Chiang Mai, Chon Buri (Pattaya) and Prachuap Khiri Khan (Hua Hin).

This year’s Songkran was going to be a major stepping stone for the island’s recovery and many hotels, some who had opened especially to cater for Songkran holiday traffic, noted a lot of cancellations just prior to the break.

But some island hotels have still reported high occupancy rates over the past week. One Manager, who did not want his name published, said that their hotel was almost full with Thai patrons, most who had pre-paid for their flights and accommodation and decided to go ahead anyway.

Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, the president of the Phuket Tourist Association, says that they are opposed to any lockdown as it would cripple the island, with its tourist businesses already suffering greatly. He stated that 15% of people cancelled their Songkran bookings, while 30% had postponed their trips.

The Sports and Tourism Ministers is still in quarantine after having close contact with Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, who was diagnosed with Covid-19 2 weeks ago.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket begs Kolour attendees to come for Covid-19 testing

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Phuket begs Kolour attendees to come for Covid-19 testing | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Kolour in the park was more pleasant in 2018 before Covid-19.

Health officials in Phuket put out a public statement this week compelling all foreigners who attended clubs and Kolour events to report for Covid-19 testing. As many might expect, the response has been lacklustre at best. Spreading the message around the foreigner and expat community in Phuket, the message is aimed at the multitudes of people, mostly foreign who attended Kolour and related events that turned into a Covid-19 superspreader event. Many foreigners have not come forward, much to health officials chagrin.

Online and on social media, foreigners and Thais shed light on why this urgent public health request is going largely unheeded. Foreigners fear the repercussions of coming forward, especially since Thailand is not allowing staying home or elsewhere in isolation if someone tests positive for Covid-19. Quarantine is mandatory, and with infection numbers exploding across the country, many fear the less-than-posh comforts of being quarantined in an emergency field hospital.

Cost is the other factor that likely is preventing foreigners from turning themselves in to be tested for Covid-19. While Phuket health officials may test people for free, anyone found infected with Covid-19 will be financially responsible for all the costs of their treatment and quarantine. Foreigners with limited financial resources, especially after a year of holing up in Thailand to ride out the Coronavirus, may resist reporting to authorities when they cannot afford the mandatory quarantine and medical treatment.

Perhaps recognizing this hesitation, the message includes a plea for all attendees to self-quarantine and self-monitor for any symptoms over the next week, even if they fail to report or test negative. The note also reminds everyone to wear masks in public at all times. The statement to the public also instructed anyone who attended any of the Covid-19 spreading nightlife events to report to the Acute Respiratory Infection Clinic area of Vachira General Hospital to receive a Covid-19 swab test.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions

Tim Newton

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Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | Thaiger

Three of Thailand’s biggest expat areas are seeing sharp rises in new infections, partly from pre-Songkran traffic. The Songkran holidays, now officially over (but will see many people taking today off and making a weekend Songkran extension), and the government says they are expecting to see a rise in the cases numbers reported in the popular holiday locations.

Chon Buri Public Health office says they now have a total of 910 infections since April 1. They have 103 new cases in the past 24 hours. Most new cases are in Bang Lamung district which includes Pattaya City with 47, Siracha with 12) & Chon buri City with 8.

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | News by Thaiger

Meanwhile Phuket has a total of 142 infections recorded on the island with the Governor still insisting there will be no need for a lockdown. Here’s a breakdown of the areas and the numbers of recorded infections so far (below).

Governor Narong announced that the Phuket Infectious Disease Control Committee won’t be implementing an official lockdown, but will “strictly raise the intensity of public health measures to counter the spread of Covid-19″.

“Everyone should wear a face mask, maintain social distancing, wash their hands frequently and install the Mor Chana app (available for free from App Store and Google Play Store).”

A meeting of the CCSA, chaired by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is expected to upgrade restrictions in red zone areas around the country, which includes Phuket and Pattaya. Read more about the latest red and orange zones HERE.

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | News by Thaiger

For Hua Hin expats, there’s been 100 new Covid-19 infections announced in Prachuap Khiri Khan in the past 24 hours, 75 cases from Hua Hin. This takes the total in the province since April 1 to 625. Hua Hin accounts for nearly 90% of the district’s total cases.

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