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Phuket ‘jellyfish attack’ report eludes hospitals, confounds experts

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket ‘jellyfish attack’ report eludes hospitals, confounds experts | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Local hospital staff and experts at the Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC) are confounded by the story of a British woman, reported in sensational fashion yesterday, as suffering extreme injuries in a jellyfish attack “somewhere near Phuket”.

Although the story, published by the Daily Mail in the UK, showed that British mum Sam Webster, 37, clearly suffered serious injuries, the report did not specify where the jellyfish “attack” occurred.

However, it says that the family’s tour operator “arranged a transfer to a bigger private hospital in Phuket” that required a six-hour ambulance journey.

Hoping to clarify where the danger lies, so that other tourists could be spared the agony that Mrs Webster endured, the Phuket Gazette contacted the major private hospitals on the island.

They told the Gazette that they had no record of treating a “Sam Webster”.

Staff at Mission Phuket Hospital confirmed they did have a “Webster” in their system, but that person was a male foreigner with the first name Mathew – and he was not admitted for the treatment of jellyfish lacerations.

Staff at Krabi Hospital also confirmed they had no record of treating any person with the family name “Webster”.

“Actually, we have had no reports of any serious jellyfish stings at all,” the staffer said.

Likewise, Lt Wissawa Sanaeha posted at the Phi Phi Island Police Station said he had not heard of any jellyfish attacks. “I haven’t heard of any such incidents in this area. Maybe it happened somewhere else. I do not remember any reports of jellyfish attacks here,” he said.

Likewise, PMBC Director Ukkrit Satapoomin told the Gazette, “We have not been informed of any serious jellyfish stings. The PMBC is usually informed when marine animals, including jellyfish, wash ashore, but we are not usually informed of people being stung by jellyfish.

“Of course, we will be informed if it is an important case and there is something we may be able to help with,” he added.

Mr Ukkrit explained that box jellyfish may be found along the Andaman coast, including Phuket, Krabi and Phang Nga, but only on rare occasions.

However, he did warn that other forms of less dangerous jellyfish, that could still inflict serious burns, are found all along the Andaman coast.

“I cannot specify in which areas jellyfish can be found because they travel with the current, so they can be found anywhere in coastal waters. They can easily be found in areas where brackish water meets seawater, but they tend to be seen near the shore only during the rainy season [May to October],” he said.

Mr Ukkrit explained that tourists were more frequently encountering jellyfish because more tourists were now swimming in Phuket during the rainy season, when jellyfish numbers are higher.

“We are working together with Department of Disease Control, under the Ministry of Public Health, to post signs warning people that jellyfish can be found in the waters around Phuket, and to explain how to provide initial treatment if stung by a jellyfish. We will post the signs in tourist areas around Phuket ‘soon’,” said Mr Ukkrit.

“We will also attach baskets with a bottle of vinegar to the sign, so that when anyone does get stung, they can pour the vinegar onto the affected area. This prevents any undischarged stinging cells on the tentacles from firing more venom into the victim. However, this is only an immediate first aid measure, as the person will need to be taken to hospital for proper treatment,” he added.

Mr Ukkrit suggested that anyone wanting to swim off Phuket during the rainy season and stay safe from jellyfish stings should wear clothing while in the water, as many local Thais do.

Regarding the new species of box jellyfish found in fish traps off Phuket in 2008, Mr Ukkrit explained that more research is being done to learn about the species.

At the time, PMBC staff contacted Australian experts to work together on the research, as marine biologists could not even confirm the level of toxicity of the stings delivered by the new species.

“Right now, we still do not have enough information about the new species, but if we find they are dangerous, we will certainly warn the public,” Mr Ukkrit assured.

Click here to see the Phuket Gazette‘s television report of bluebottles, also known as the “Portuguese Man o’ War”, washing up on Phuket beaches last year.

— 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.

Tourism

Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months

Maya Taylor

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Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Jing Daily

The first group of tourists to arrive under Thailand’s new Special Tourist Visa scheme are expected to land in Phuket on October 8. The Bangkok Post reports that a flight from Guangzhou in southern China will carry 120 tourists, who will spend their first 14 days in alternative state quarantine. They are reported to be travelling under the government’s new STV.

Arrivals who do not pass the initial health screening will be transferred to specially chosen hospitals, as “Patients under Investigation”. Those who do pass the screening will be transported to alternative state quarantine once they’ve gone through immigration processing.

A Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration spokesperson says the resort islands of Phuket and Koh Samui will be the first to welcome travellers under the Special Tourist Via scheme. He pointed out that Guangzhou has not recorded any new cases of the Covid-19 virus for a prolonged period, meaning next week’s tourist arrivals are deemed “low risk”. His assertion is confirmed from the official figures at worldometer.info website recording world Covid-19 cases.

The CCSA reports that there will be a limit of 300 foreign tourists admitted each week, but this will be reviewed after the first phase of the re-opening. All arrivals will be subject to 14 day quarantine, although the Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has suggested reducing this to 7 days eventually. The CCSA says they are not considering reducing the quarantine time at this stage.

Thiravat Hemachudha from the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Disease Health Science Centre is not opposed to the idea.

“We can study this with foreign visitors who will arrive next month. During the 14 day quarantine they will be tested on the first, the seventh and the fourteenth day. If they are free of infections, we can shorten the quarantine to 7 days.”

However, not all are in agreement, with a doctor from Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University cautioning against any shortening of the quarantine period.

Meanwhile, Phuket governor, Narong Woonsiew, says the province is ready to welcome the new arrivals, with Covid-19 labs in place at Phuket airport, and officials due to carry out a full dress rehearsal today.

Thanit Sermkaew, chief of the Phuket Public Health Office, says over 1,200 rooms at 9 hotels have been chosen as alternative state quarantine properties, with a total of 73 hotels, providing over 5,800 rooms, applying for consideration.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Phuket

Woman arrested for abandoning newborn baby on a bench in Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Woman arrested for abandoning newborn baby on a bench in Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siangtai/Newshawk Phuket

Police tracked down and arrested a Burmese woman who allegedly left her newborn baby on a bench in Phuket’s Patong area last week. The mother faces charges of abandoning a baby.

The newborn was left in a reusable shopping bag on a bench behind a Krungthai Bank branch. A woman in the area heard the baby crying and found the newborn in the bag along with a bottle of milk, diapers and clothing. Police reviewed surveillance camera footage shows a woman, police later identified as Ei Ei Phyu, leaving the bag on the bench.

Police say the woman gave birth on September 9 at a local hospital in Surat Thani’s Phun Phin district. Ei Ei allegedly took a van from Surat Thani to Phuket on September 22 and stayed with a friend in Patong. The early the next morning, she allegedly left her baby on the bench before boarding a bus back to Surat Thani.

Burmese workers in the Patong area told police Ei Ei used to work at a local Indian food restaurant before she moved to Surat Thani to work as a rubber tapper. Ei Ei allegedly told police she is not in the position to raise a child.

In earlier reports, police said the baby is healthy and does not appear to have any injuries.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid | The Thaiger

Phuket Provincial Police have arrested 6 people after finding large amounts of methamphetamine and other drugs during a raid. One suspect alone allegedly had 7.6 kilograms of crystal meth (ya ice) and over 12,500 methamphetamine pills (ya bah). 29 year old Surasak ‘Bank’ Wijit and 27 year old Panida ‘Mei’ Saeyang were arrested at an apartment car park in Soi Lookkaew, Moo 6, Rassada, in eastern Phuket, after they were found in possession of the drugs.

Police also found 2 mobile phones and a red Honda PCX, registered in Phuket, as evidence. Both suspects have been charged with posessing a Category 1 drug with the intent to sell.

Other suspects arrested at the same time include 36 year old from Chiang Rai, 42 year old Sarawut ‘An’ Srichanon, from Ranong and 31 year old Pornthep ‘Iew’ Thepchampa, who were charged with the same crimes in Chalong after police found more drugs in their possession. 33 year old Kamon ‘Kung’ Sae-ngow, was arrested as well after police found kratom juice and leaves at a house in Rassada. He was taken to Phuket City Police station and was charged with a Category 5 drug possession.

SOURCE:The Phuket News

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