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Phuket passes on swine flu vaccine

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket passes on swine flu vaccine | The Thaiger
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PHUKET TOWN: Phuket residents at high risk of contracting swine flu are failing to get vaccinated due to fears of side effects.

Fewer than 7% of those identified as being at high risk have taken the vaccine, according to figures from the Phuket Public Health Office (PPHO).

The PPHO says there are around 10,000 people in Phuket listed as having conditions that put them at elevated risk. These include women over three months pregnant, people weighing over 100kg, people with autism, sufferers of chronic diseases as well as health care workers.

However, since the vaccination program began in mid-January, just 666 people have been inoculated.

PPHO director Pongsawas Ratanasang thinks public fear about side effects is largely responsible.

He insists the vaccine is safe and to prove this point was the first person on the island to be inoculated under the program.

After the injection I felt perfectly normal,” he said. “There was no allergic reaction. Professors have guaranteed that the vaccine is very safe. It’s just as safe as the normal influenza vaccine, which has been used for many years,” he said.

The vaccine has the backing of the World Health Organization, he added.

Between January 11 and 29, a total of 83,615 people nationwide received the vaccine.

Of these, 52 experienced mild side effects that included fever, prickly heat, aches and swelling of the skin. In all cases the symptoms disappeared within three days.

Dr Pongsawas said the number of people seeking treatment for flu-like conditions has increased recently, but most were not infected with the A(H1N1) virus that causes swine flu.

Asked about rumors that there had been an outbreak of the disease at the Wichit Songkraam School near Central Festival Phuket, he said teachers there closed the school on a precautionary basis last week after many students got sick.

Subsequent testing revealed that all were suffering from normal flu, not the A(H1N1) strain.

Since the beginning of the year there have only been five new cases of A(H1N1) infection reported in Phuket, he said.

However, the number of people seeking treatment at Vachira Phuket Hospital for flu-like symptoms has risen markedly in recent weeks, he said.

At the start of the new year, about fifty people per week came to the hospital with flu-like conditions, compared to over a hundred currently.

Most are given the antiviral drug oseltamivir and sent home without testing for A(H1N1), which is expensive. If their symptoms persist or worsen, lab work is then ordered, he said.

Dr Weerawat Yorsaengrat, deputy director of Vachira Phuket Hospital, said there were fewer swine flu patients now than there were at the beginning of the outbreak last year.

Nevertheless, I’d like people to keep taking care of themselves by washing their hands and keeping everything clean,” he said.

Anyone who starts to feel sick should stop any exercise routines until they return to full health, he added.

— Atchaa Khamlo & S. Fein

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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

4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket

Maya Taylor

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4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket. PHOTO: Booking.com

Phuket officials are setting aside around 4 billion baht to transform medical tourism in the southern province of Phuket, by developing a state-of-the-art treatment hub in the north of the island. The Bangkok Post reports that the Treasury department is planning to give the Public Health Ministry permission to use 141 rai of government land in the sub-district of Mai Khao, close to Phuket International Airport. It’s not the first time the proposal has come to light.

The concept is gathering support as Phuket battles to diversify its attraction beyond a tropical holiday island.

The aim is to develop Phuket as a world-class health and wellness destination, with facilities that will attract medical tourists from all over the world, as well as providing a high standard of treatment to the local population. It’s understood the facility will provide a full range of health services, including long-term care, and hospice and rehabilitation services.

The island already has a well-developed medical tourism market, but has been based around local hospitals and clinics linking up with foreign marketing companies in the past. “The International Medical and Public Health Service” has been conceived to create more long term financial security and diversification, and value-added tourism in Phuket, as the island has taken a heavy financial hit over the past 7 months.

4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Phuket Andaman News

The plan was first suggested in 2017, by then governor, Noraphat Plodthong and confirmed by the director of Phuket’s Vachira Hospital, Dr. Chalermpong Sukontapol, in July. At that stage, the estimated budget was 3-4 billion baht. The director-general of the Treasury department, Yuthana Yimkarun, says the plot is being offered to the Health Ministry for free. The land is thought be worth around 1 billion baht.

Yuthana says the ministry will manage investment, with approximately 2 billion baht required for the first stage of the project. Construction of the facility is expected to be completed over 2 years.

Meanwhile, it’s understood that unused government land that is currently managed by various government agencies may be moved under the remit of central government, with a view to increasing its worth. According to the Bangkok Post report, just 4% of government land is directly managed by the Treasury. The other 96% is controlled by various government agencies. Yuthana says the plan is to increase the percentage of state-owned land under the Treasury’s management to 10% within 2 years.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

“Open the borders, safely”, Bill Heinecke, Minor International interview – VIDEO

The Thaiger

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“Open the borders, safely”, Bill Heinecke, Minor International interview – VIDEO | The Thaiger

Bill Heinecke speaks to Bill Barnett. The two heavy-hitters of Thailand’s hotel and hospitality sector, mull over the current Covid situation and the reopening of Thailand’s borders to some form of tourism. Bill Heinecke is the Chairman and Founder of Minor International.

Bill Barnett is the Managing Director of c9hotelworks.com

Now the Thai government has approved the special long-term tourist visa scheme (STV), hoteliers are remaining skeptical about reopening due to the lack of clarity in the recent announcement, which will reportedly take effect next month. The president of the Thai Hotels Association’s southern chapter says more hoteliers will consider reopening if the government gives further information about the plan in terms of prospective markets, arrival dates, origin countries, and flights.

Such details would allow hotels to prepare themselves ahead of time to offer services as alternative state quarantine premises as at least 60 hotels in Phuket are awaiting approval to operate such facilities.

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Bangkok

Now they’re coming… Special Tourist Visa flight set for Tuesday – Tourism and Sports Minister

Caitlin Ashworth

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Now they’re coming… Special Tourist Visa flight set for Tuesday – Tourism and Sports Minister | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Suhyeon Choi

After much confusion and a few apparent ‘misunderstandings’, Chinese tourists on the Special Tourist Visa will actually arrive on October 20 and 26. At least that’s what Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn says, according to the Bangkok Post. The first group is said to arrive 4 days from now in Bangkok (if they actually applied for the visa this time).

Reports circulated for weeks about a flight of 120 to 150 tourists set to arrive in Phuket on October 8 from Guangzhou, China. An announcement was made shortly after the flight was due to arrive with Tourism Authority Governor Yuthasak Supasorn saying “administrative issues” had caused the delay.

It was later reported that no one from Guangzhou had actually applied for the visa and it was all just a misunderstanding after the Tourism Authority of Thailand reportedly passed off a list of those “interested” in the visa as actual applications.

This time, the Post is reporting the first group of 120 tourists from Guangzhou will arrive at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on Tuesday. Another group of 120 tourists, also from Guangzhou, will arrive on October 26, but the Post didn’t say where that flight will land.

It’s apparently the same group that was planned to arrive in Phuket on October 8, but the minister claims the trip was postponed due to the Vegetarian Festival which is planned to run until October 25. Both the Phuket governor and National Security Council secretary general had claimed the festival was the reason for the delayed flight and was intended to ease fears of Covid-19 for the festival-goers coming in from the rest of Thailand.

Even though the new long stay tourist visa is good for 90 days, and can be renewed twice, the tourists will only stay in the country for 30 days, with 14 of those days in quarantine. Phiphat says the Tourism Authority of Thailand will find activities to keep the tourists occupied while in quarantine.

The visitors will be the first international tourists after a 6 month ban to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Thai officials have been discussing plans for months about how to safely reopen borders to revive the country’s economy which is heavily driven by the tourism industry. Officals are now talking about cutting down the mandatory time for quarantine from 14 days to 7 days to help entice people to visit.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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