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Phuket Gazette Sports: Australian Open update

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Phuket Gazette Sports: Australian Open update | Thaiger
Juggernaut Sharapova blasts into Melbourne semi-finals
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Maria Sharapova continued her perfect run in Australian Open quarter-finals by swatting aside Russian compatriot Ekaterina Makarova on Tuesday.

Sharapova had not lost any of her previous five Australian Open quarter-final matches, a record she extended with ease against the 19th-seeded Makarova with a 6-2 6-2 victory. The pair had met in the same round last year at Melbourne Park.

The 24-year-old Makarova had beaten 11th seed Marion Bartoli and fifth seed Angelique Kerber to make the quarter-finals, but was unable to stop Sharapova’s rampant march through the tournament.

Sharapova has dropped just nine games in total, the fewest number conceded by a semi-finalist at the tournament.

Monica Seles conceded just 12 games on her way to the 1991 semi-finals.

Sharapova, who won the Australian Open title in 2008, will now meet sixth seed Li Na in the semi-finals on Thursday after the Chinese upset fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska 7-5 6-3 earlier on Rod Laver Arena.

Ferrer survives in “miracle” fight back
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: David Ferrer stared defeat full in the face three times but staged an epic comeback from two sets down to beat fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro and reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open on Tuesday.

The fourth seed looked to be heading for the exit when, having been dominated by some brilliant play from the 10th seed for the first two sets, he faced Almagro serving for the match at 5-4 in the third.

It is not for nothing that Ferrer is known as one of the best fighters in tennis, however, and he hustled along the baseline to claw his way back into the contest and take the third set on Rod Laver Arena.

Twice more Almagro had chances to serve out for victory but he blew them both and Ferrer, who had won all 12 of their previous meetings, emerged a 4-6 4-6 7-5 7-6 6-2 winner after three hours and 44 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

“It was a miracle I won this match,” said Ferrer, who will face Novak Djokovic or Tomas Berdych in the last four.

“I tried to fight and do my best (but) next round… I need to play my best tennis, better than today. Now I will need to rest but I have a day and a half.”

Almagro contributed to his own downfall by stuttering when he had victory within his sights and his body let him down in the last two sets when he was hindered by a leg injury.

“I think I played my best tennis today but it wasn’t good enough to beat David,” he said.

“I don’t want think that it’s a mentality problem. If I had a mentality problem, I think I wouldn’t have won the first two sets.”

Ferrer, 30, has lost all four of his previous grand slam semi-finals, including defeats to world number one Djokovic at the U.S. Open in 2007 and last year.

He will undoubtedly be hoping the defending champion is still tired after his marathon fourth round victory over Stan Wawrinka when he takes on fifth seed Berdych in the final singles match on Rod Laver Arena.

Li beats Radwanska to make Melbourne last four
Reuters Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Li Na wore down Agnieszka Radwanska with a barrage of power-hitting to beat the fourth seed 7-5 6-3 and advance to her third semi-final at the Australian Open earlier today.

The Chinese sixth seed overcame her customary slow start to edge the Pole in a tight first set and after trailing 2-0 in the second, reeled off five straight games to march to the brink of victory in bright sunshine at Rod Laver Arena.

Li survived a late wobble conceding two break points when serving for the match, but reeled off five straight points to seal it after 102 minutes when Radwanska pushed a forehand long.

Li, runner-up to Kim Clijsters in 2011, will face the winner Of the match between second seed Maria Sharapova and fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova for a place in the final.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge

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Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge | Thaiger
PHOTO: Hotels and other tourism business are hoping the July 1st reopening goal can still be achieved.

A hotel information blog is claiming that, despite growing Covid-19 numbers, Phuket should stick to its schedule in reopening to travellers without quarantine in July. That’s only 2 and a half months away.

In an interview with the Director of Travel and Tourism Consulting at GlobalData, they stressed that while it is crucial to rein in the spread of Covid-19 and the B117 strain now menacing Thailand, the risk must not overshadow the need to push forward with vaccinations and the march towards eliminating the quarantine by July in order to save the tourism industry and all those dependent on it.

“The Phuket pilot program is essential in creating a path towards economic recovery for Thailand, a country heavily dependent on tourism. More than 17% of Thailand’s gross domestic product is attributed to tourism and the Covid-19 pandemic has lead to the worst economic free-fall in over 20 years”

The blog acknowledges the inherent risk and possible appearance of foolishness to prioritise the plans to reopen and carry on with the same rollout schedule. But they urge Thai authorities to consider that July 1 is still 2 and a half months away, leaving ample time to recover and make progress towards the approaching Phuket reopening. A vital aspect of the reopening plan lies in vaccinating over 70% of Phuket’s provincial residents, a sizable task, but one that brings great benefit with or without the scheduled reopening.

“Pushing ahead to achieve this goal puts Phuket on track to welcome back tourists, perhaps in a “bio-bubble”, and restart the economy. The economy is desperate with household debt growing, pushing the government to enact emergency decrees to provide relief. These households need the return of tourism and the influx of cash international tourists will bring.”

The blog hopes that Thai authorities can balance the necessary Covid-19 safety measures in Phuket to protect the Thai population with the economic need to bring back tourism. They believe that with sufficient measures in place, vaccinated locals could welcome vaccinated international tourists back to Phuket reopening safely in July.

SOURCE: Hotel News Resource

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

UPDATE: Field hospitals being established in Covid hot zones around Thailand

Tim Newton

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UPDATE: Field hospitals being established in Covid hot zones around Thailand | Thaiger

UPDATE: The field hospital in Bangkok’s Bang Bon district, west of the Chao Phraya river, had its first 10 Covid patients today. The director of the medical services office of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration says that the 10 patients into the makeshift hospital, located at the Chalerm Phra Kiat Stadium, will enable assessment of the performance by the medical team, before more patients arrive – Thai PBS World

ORIGINAL STORY: Despite the confident posture and Songkran going ahead, amid restrictions, there is a lot of background activity which suggest the authorities are getting ready for a surge of new infections at the end of the Songkran break, officially this Thursday (but in reality, next Sunday at the end of the weekend when most people who travelled home will return for a resumption of work).

The Thai lunar new year celebrations – Songkran – are the largest mass movement of Thais each year, a source for a huge leap in road deaths and accidents. And, this year, a potential super-spreader event.

Quietly, at least 3,000 extra beds have been prepared in 10 field hospitals around Bangkok. The government has also confirmed that additional field hospitals are being set up in other potential ‘hot zones’, including Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chonburi and Hua Hin. Some of them were set up last year, and since closed, and now being prepared for new positive infections.

One Thai person who had been in one of the field hospitals put together a check-list of things to take IF you end up as an invited ‘guest’ HERE.

The CCSA say they are looking for additional beds in hotels and previous state quarantine facilities (where repatriating Thais were housed for their free quarantine) to be used if needed.

This year’s Songkran had bad timing, coming just a week after a number of major clusters were identified around some of Bangkok’s popular nightlife areas in 3 key inner city districts. Even before Songkran these isolated clusters had already spread into the provinces. In the weekend before Songkran the government had already listed 37 provinces which had instigated some form of paperwork or restrictions for people who had been in any of the 3 Bangkok districts.

The government also leapt on the source of the new outbreaks – bars, clubs and entertainment venues – and promptly shut them down for at least 2 weeks. At this stage it looks likely that that ban will be extended beyond the 2 weeks and, depending on the extent of new infections following the Songkran holiday, additional restrictions will also be added.

Even today the Civil Aviation Authority published a number of new in-flight restrictions for passengers – another blow to the hard-hit domestic aviation sector.

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Chiang Mai

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

Tim Newton

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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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