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Phuket full-scale tsunami drill not to be announced in Russian

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket full-scale tsunami drill not to be announced in Russian | Thaiger

PHUKET: Phuket will hold its annual full-scale tsunami evacuation and marine rescue drill at Karon Beach on February 21, but the tsunami warning messages will not be played in Russian, the Phuket Gazette was told today.

“The Ministry of Interior requires the six Andaman provinces in the tsunami hazard zone to hold a tsunami evacuation and marine rescue drill at least once a year,” Phuket Vice Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada explained.

“Karon Beach was chosen for the drill because it is a popular tourist destination in Phuket,” he added.

The drill will be held in two stages, at 9:30am and 1pm, in order to test different emergency response teams and their response times.

To announce the drill, the normal tsunami warning and cancellation messages will be played, San Jantharawong, chief of the local Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, confirmed to the Phuket Gazette.

But the messages will not be broadcast in Russian.

As previously reported by the Gazette, the tsunami warning message (click to play) and the cancellation message (click to play) are given in Thai, English, German, Chinese and Japanese.

The lack of Russian language messages has raised serious concerns among many of Phuket’s leading tourism figures as Russia is now the second-largest source market for tourists visiting Phuket (story here).

To prevent confusion similar to that which followed the tsunami scare on April 11 last year, when the warning towers along the Andaman seaboard sounded the alarm to evacuate, officers will tomorrow begin erecting signs in Thai and English to announce the drill, Mr San said.

“I talked with Karon Municipality today, asking them to help announce the drill to local residents and tourists in the area. We will also post signs and have sound trucks announcing it in Thai and English,” he added.

Referring to the 8.0 magnitude earthquake that struck east of the Solomon Islands this morning, Bancha Singsa of the National Disaster Warning Center (NDWC) in Bangkok said, “That quake was 7,700km from Phuket, too far to have had an effect on us.”

However, Mr Bancha said, “We don’t know when a tsunami might strike Thailand again; that’s why the regular practice of tsunami evacuation is needed.”

The earthquake that struck the Solomon Islands triggered a tsunami warning issued across the Pacific (story here).

Hours later, a small tsunami with waves about a meter tall whipped the coast of Santa Cruz Island, swamping coastal villages and killing five people, including a 10-year-old boy (story here).

— Orawin Narabal

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

Phuket

Covid-19 screening kicks off at Phuket arrival points

Maya Taylor

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Covid-19 screening kicks off at Phuket arrival points | Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook/PR Thai Government/Phuketandamannews

Officials on the southern island of Phuket have begun an extensive screening process of all arrivals from elsewhere in the Kingdom. The new checks are aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19 on the island, which has already recorded over 250 cases in the latest wave. The checks will be in place until at least the end of the month.

Anyone arriving from one of the high-risk “red” provinces must have proof they have received 2 doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, or evidence of a negative PCR test, taken with 72 hours of their arrival. Those who cannot satisfy either of those requirements will need to take an antigen rapid test. The test is free of charge for Thai nationals, but 500 baht for foreigners, regardless of whether they pay tax and have social security coverage in the Kingdom or not.

The Bangkok Post reports that, in order to take the test, passengers arriving by land must exit their vehicle and present their ID. They will then receive a nasal swab test, with the results confirmed in around 45 minutes. If negative, they will be issued with a Covid-free certificate, which is valid for 72 hours. They will also be required to download the Mor Chana tracking app and register on the track and trace website www.gophuget.com.

Of course, if they test positive, they will be whisked off to a hospital – most likely of the field variety.

The screening measures are in place at Phuket airport and the Tha Chatchai checkpoint at the north of the island, where all overland traffic will arrive. Phuket governor Narong Woonciew visited the checkpoint for an inspection yesterday. He says while there were some teething problems in the initial stages, things are running more smoothly now.

The governor says that while around 10,000 people visited Phuket every day over the Songkran holiday, that number has now dropped to around 3,000.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Phuket

Expats condemn Phuket’s “xenophobic” rapid-test payment policy

Maya Taylor

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Expats condemn Phuket’s “xenophobic” rapid-test payment policy | Thaiger
PHOTO: Flickr / dronepicr

Expats living in Thailand are up in arms after Phuket officials confirmed that foreigners arriving on the island would have to pay for a rapid Covid-19 test that is free for Thais. The testing requirement is part of new restrictions now in force to combat the spread of the virus. However, it is not the cost of the test – 500 baht – that has angered so many expats, but the fact that officials see nothing wrong with charging people based on their nationality.

On Monday it was announced that EVERYONE arriving in Phuket would have to pay 300 baht if they needed the ‘rapid covid test’. But that was amended the next day. Now we have the latest example of 2-tier pricing in Thailand (below).

The news was shared by travel blogger Richard Barrow on his Facebook page and has so far generated over 430 comments (and still growing), most of them furious…

“Unbelievable. I know Thailand is xenophobic, but for the authorities to do that is an absolute disgrace. They can piss off. I’ll take my business elsewhere in future.”

“I pay Thai taxes, I have for 16 years! am happy to bring my money elsewhere then!”

“Phuketians: “Tourists please come back.” Also Phuketians: “500b khap.”

It was not just foreigners commenting however, with at least one Thai person condemning the policy…

“I feel so so ashamed of how my country (or its government) so desperately wants more money to continue their corruption. Any possible ways they can rip you off – they will do shamelessly.”

Effective yesterday, anyone flying in to Phuket from elsewhere in the country must take a rapid Covid-19 test, unless they have taken a negative PCR test within the last 72 hours or can prove they’ve received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. With less than 1% of the country vaccinated – almost none of them foreigners – the second requirement is unlikely to be met by many.

Foreigners who have to take the rapid test, regardless of whether they are tax-paying work permit holders or retirees contributing to the economy, long-term residents or married to a Thai, will have to pay 500 baht. For Thais, it is free. The focus of expat anger is not the cost, but the principle, which is being roundly condemned as xenophobic.

Foreigners employed in the Kingdom in particular, are angered, given that they have been paying tax for years and have social security coverage. In response, Phuket health officials have issued an “explanation” – that manages to explain very little.

Expats condemn Phuket’s “xenophobic” rapid-test payment policy | News by Thaiger

Meanwhile, while the new restrictions apply to everyone arriving by air, for those arriving by road, only people coming from the high-risk “red” provinces need to meet the entry requirements.

And, just as a footnote, if your rapid covid test conducted by airport officials happens to come back positive you will be whisked away to a Phuket field hospital for a 14 day stay.

Expats condemn Phuket’s “xenophobic” rapid-test payment policy | News by ThaigerSOURCE: TPN

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thailand’s covid vaccine passport – will it only be used for travel?

Tim Newton

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Thailand’s covid vaccine passport – will it only be used for travel? | Thaiger

Hi. Im Tim Newton. Just upfront saying that these are my personal opinions and don’t necessarily reflect that of The Thaiger.

So today the Thai Government now has officially announced vaccine passports. The documents are going to be the next big thing in the long and winding Covid road. Firstly, before some comments, the details that we actually know.

This Covid passport legislation has now been announced in the Royal Gazette, so it’s not being considered, it’s actually law. According to media info, the vaccine passport will be an official document which can be used by vaccinated people travelling abroad.

I fear this Covid passport will end up as just another victim of the unintended consequences. The benefits, mostly intended for international travellers, will be used as another way of whittling away our remaining privacies and adding another layer of little annoyances to life and work in the Land of Smiles.

Look at the vaccine roll out in Thailand. Usually a business should try and under-promise and then over deliver. In this case the Thai government have done the exact opposite. Timelines for vaccination are not being met and the ordering of vaccines appears chaotic and, at best, just slow in getting to the startline.

The PM has rushed to assure the citizenry that the delays have been caused by an abundance of caution. And unfortunately the 2 horses they’ve backed in the vaccination race are having a few bad PR days and neither may be a long term solution to the latest variants of Covid-19 spreading around Thailand. But I’ll let the scientists sort that out… certainly not the legion of instant vaccine experts that have now infected the internet.

I’m all for trying to get the country open again, as soon as practicable, and safe to do so. But I’m starting to think the best course of action is to lock my gate and resort to an online worklife and Food Panda… the mad foreign guy locked up in his house with his 3 cats.

Here in Phuket we now have an arrival regime that demands either proof of vaccine, a negative Covid test, or a 300 baht rapid Covid test at the airport. The chances of me subjecting myself to an airport officials sticking a swap up my admittedly large nose in the vague hope it will probably come back negative, is zero. Again, on a daily basis we get emails from foreigners who say they’ve been whisked away to hospitals, and more recently field hospitals, with no recourse or means of appeal, or even the chance to get a second test.

Here’s one from this morning…

I can’t call the embassy as I don’t have a SIM card, I also have been told to order outside food as they won’t feed me. They won’t provide me with my test results and told me that I’d need to stay 14 days here in quarantine, but the doctor I talked with yesterday said 5 more days. I’m so confused as to what to do next.

Now, stripping all this back to basics, I’ll concede that we’re all in this mess together at the moment, and that we may have to forego a few personal freedoms for the greater good. I have no issue wearing a mask in public. I have no worries leaving my phone number at the door when entering premises. I will do my best to stay socially distant when in public.

But all these restrictions are easy to ramp up and much harder to wind back. And, at a deeper level, our trust in institutions, governments, and medical officials is being eroded. And that’s not good as we stumble forward in trying to get the world open again.

Will I get a vaccine passport? Probably. And I’ll also expect to have to carry it everywhere I go as it’s used as just another reminder that I’m just a guest in this country and I better just get used to it.

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