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‘Patong Taxi Federation’ formed

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PATONG, PHUKET: More than one thousand tuk-tuk, motorbike and car taxi drivers are banding together to form a new ‘Patong Taxi Federation’.

One of the organization’s primary goals will be to clean up the image held by many of Patong’s taxi drivers.

A second aim will be to improve traffic flow by having a central body that will oversee all three types of transport.

The federation, formally established on Monday, is the brainchild of Patong Municipality.

Around 90 members elected Setthasak ‘Ko Aew’ Buason as temporary president of the Patong Taxi Federation at its first meeting.

Ko Aew already leads a group of more than 500 saloon car and minivan drivers in the town.

“The federation wants to improve the image of Patong and make Patong the number one tourist destination in the world,” he said.

“When tourists come here they will see a town that looks beautiful and organized,” he said. “They’ll also have more space to park their cars.”

With the aim of improving traffic flow around Patong, the federation will set up fixed stands from which the various types of taxi will pick up passengers.

“Right now tuk-tuks parked at the side of the road are creating traffic jams, but the problem can be solved,” he said.

Rental cars parked along the beach road were also a major problem, he said.

A call center will be set up to assign taxis for passengers.

“They won’t be driving around looking for customers like they do these days,” Ko Aew said.

A meeting with other taxi groups would take place soon and a new president might be chosen as a result, Ko Aew said.

These groups include more than 1,000 tuk-tuks, as well as the roughly 900 members of the Patong Hired Motorcycle Taxis group and 500 members of the Saving Cooperative, another motorcycle taxi association.

All Patong taxis will have to join the federation. Members will be issued stickers allowing police and municipal officials to check if they are members, Ko Aew said.

The federation will collect information and conduct background checks on all its members, he said.

“We admit that in our group most members still run black plate [unregistered] taxis. We’re going to set up a cooperative for black plate taxis and get them properly registered with green plates,” he said.

Asked if the reputation of Patong taxis, particularly tuk-tuks, was affecting tourism in Patong, Koh Aew said he thought the poor state of the tourism economy was a world-wide problem, not one particular to Patong.

“Before these problems became well-known, people were still visiting Patong. It depends on how the media presents the story to the public.

“If the media do so positively, it will help. But, anyway, fewer tourists are coming here because of the global economic crisis,” he said.

“Not many Thai people come to Patong, but we expect this project will increase their numbers,” he added.

— Atchaa Khamlo

 

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

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket struggles towards herd immunity, vaccine rollout slow in other provinces

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ วัคซีนภูเก็ต (PR Phuket)

So far, 22% of the population in Phuket is fully vaccinated against Covid-19 while the majority of provinces in Thailand have not vaccinated any of the residents, according to data compiled by researcher Peter Scully.

Bangkok, the epicentre of recent infections with more than 15,000 confirmed cases since April 1, has only fully vaccinated 1% of the population. Around 10 million people live in Bangkok. Surrounding areas Samut Sakhon, Samut Prakan, and Nonthaburi, which have all been hit hard by the recent outbreak, have each only fully vaccinated 1% of their populations.

Despite the recent wave of coronavirus infections, which has made up more than half of Thailand’s cumulative count of confirmed cases and virus-related deaths, the Thai government says they are still moving forward with plans to reopen Phuket to vaccinated tourists by July 1.

The island province has been rolling out a mass vaccination campaign in an effort to administer the 2-dose vaccine to 70% of the population by the end of June to reach herd immunity and reopen to foreign tourists. Tourism officials also plan to reopen Krabi, Phang Nga, Koh Samui, Pattaya, and Chiang Mai.

It’s unclear exactly how many vaccines have been administered on the island of Koh Samui where health officials are rolling out a mass vaccination campaign. Some expats who work as English teachers on the island say they have received the vaccine. According to Peter’s data, 2% of the population in Surat Thani, which includes Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan, have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Province Population fully vaccinated
Bangkok 1%
Nonthaburi 1%
Phang Nga 1%
Phuket 22%
Ranong 1%
Rayong 1%
Samut Prakan 1%
Samut Sakhon 7%
Surat Thani 2%
Tak 3%

*Data compiled by Peter Scully

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Rising Phuket Covid-19 infections may cause ICU shortage

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: ICU beds may be in short supply in Phuket soon.

A shortage of ICU beds in Phuket may be coming soon according to an epidemiologist at the main government hospital, Vachira Hospital in Phuket Town. The Phuket governor held a live broadcast press conference where the doctor explained that, with the spread of the B.117 variant, which is more transmissible and often leads to pneumonia, she fears beds might fill quickly as infection numbers increase across the province.

The first and second wave of Covid-19 saw very little pneumonia, but national reports on the third wave show about one-in-four infections have pneumonia symptoms. Only 10% of cases in Phuket have severe symptoms, while 30% have light pneumonia symptoms, and about 50% see no symptoms.

Still, even 10% may require a lot of ventilators and overwhelm the health care system. At the government hospital, there are 200 beds available, but only 19 ICU beds for severe cases. ICU beds are already half full, and the number of pneumonia patients who may soon require those beds is growing quickly. An 80% bed occupancy is considered a critical situation for the ICU.

Infection rates have been high in Phuket, per capita, and experts warn that the island desperately needs to reduce the number of new infections immediately to avoid an ICU bed shortage catastrophe. The vice governor said that proactive screening has been stepped up, especially in Rawai, Cherng Talay, and Mai Khao, and health officials will expand to other at-risk areas. They’re hoping proactive screening will be more effective than asking people for 14 day self quarantines.

Phuket currently has 476 people receiving treatment for Covid-19 with all but 1 originating in the province. 253 of those people have been discharged from the hospital, and the remaining patients are spread between 7 area hospitals while an additional 73 patients are receiving treatment at field hospitals.

Outbreaks have been spreading to different areas recently with Phuket town, Cherng Talay, Wichit, and Rassada currently marked as hotspots. With the frequent movement, the government is asking people to call 191 to report areas that may have many infections. The governor vowed that medical staff would then provide proactive testing and give care to those with Covid-19 already in order to slow spread and prevent an ICU bed shortage in Phuket.

Below are the latest figures for infections around Phuket.

  • Wichit ‒ 48 infections
  • Patong ‒ 45
  • Phuket Town – 44 (Talad Yai 27, Talad Neua 17)
  • Rassada ‒ 44
  • Cherng Talay ‒ 43
  • Kathu ‒ 38
  • Chalong ‒ 34
  • Kamala ‒ 32
  • Srisoonthorn ‒ 29
  • Rawai ‒ 26
  • Thepkrasattri ‒ 19
  • Koh Kaew ‒ 13
  • Pa Khlok ‒ 10
  • Mai Khao ‒ 8
  • Sakhu ‒ 8
  • Karon ‒ 7

SOURCE:The Phuket News

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Investigation: Was 91 year old woman’s death from Covid-19?

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: Medical workers take safety precautions dealing with the 91 year old woman's body. (via NWI Times)

Medical staff are investigating the remains of a 91 year old woman whose body was found last night in order to determine if Covid-19 was a factor in her death. The woman was found in her home in Karon, Phuket, after police, rescue workers, and a medical team from the Phuket Provincial Hospital arrived around 6:30 p.m. She was found on the floor at the foot of her bed and her body was recovered using Covid-19 safety measures. The entire home was sprayed with a disinfectant for sanitation. The woman, Puan Kingkaew, was considered high risk for Covid-19 as she was treated about a week before her death at Chalong Hospital next to a woman that was later determined to have the Coronavirus.

That woman, an unnamed 74 year old, had entered the hospital on April 28 feeling dizzy and was later discharged after receiving treatment and medication. She was readmitted on the 30th with complaints of diarrhoea and dizziness. At some point on April 30, she was in the bed next Puan whose death is being investigated for Covid-19 involvement. The next day her symptoms worsened to include difficulty breathing and a fever and doctors x-rayed her lungs and tested her for Coronavirus before moving her to an isolation room. The following day, test results confirmed that the woman did have Covid-19, prompting Chalong Hospital to close until May 10.

The hospital director said that as many as 45 medical personnel and employees were exposed to the woman, and have been admitted to a local quarantine facility at the Royal Paradise and Spa Hospital in Patong. 14 more employees were considered low risk and told to self-quarantine at home and pay attention to any sign of infection.

In addition to the staff, four patients were considered at risk to exposure from the woman, and they and their families were transferred to Dibuk hospital for further treatment. Chalong Hospital announced they will still reopen on the 10th as planned, but if an outbreak of Covid-19 is identified that plan may change.

Meanwhile, medical personnel at Vachira Phuket Hospital are investigating further if the death of the 91 year old woman found in her home did in fact have Covid-19 and succumbed to her infection or complication. A recent case involving an elderly woman dying at home with Covid-19 while waiting for a hospital bed sparked national interest and mourning.

SOURCE: Phuket News

 

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