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Woman survives four-day ordeal at sea

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Australian mother-of-four Dominique Courteille, 57, survived an ordeal of four days adrift on the Andaman Sea and in the Straits of Malacca in a dinghy.

Speaking to the media at Bangkok Hospital Phuket (BHP) today, the Belgian-born naturalized Australian said that on Thursday she and her crew went ashore on Koh Lipe, in Satun Province, to eat at a restaurant, leaving her yacht Sonnet moored only 150 meters offshore.

Later that night, she returned to the yacht alone as the other crew members, Manfred “Richie” Neustifter, 24, and Conrad Ohlier, 43, had decided to stay on the island a while longer.

However, the dinghy’s engine ran out of fuel as Ms Courteille was returning to Sonnet, and a combination of high winds and abnormally-strong currents swept the now-powerless boat out to sea.

“I went straight past the yacht and tried to row as best as I could but I’m not the strongest of rowers,” said Ms Courteille. “I then tried to signal to other yachts with my oars and I shouted for help, but pretty soon they were too far away and couldn’t hear me.

“At first I was very relaxed because I was sure that my friends, who are good sailors, would notice me gone, and come to find me. But it was nighttime, so it was very difficult for them [to do so] and by that time I had already been taken too far out by the current, which was much, much stronger than usual.”

She said, “It was terrible because there was shipping passing and it consisted of cargo ships and fishing boats, all of which were much bigger than my dinghy. I was going very slow and the waves were high. I was trying to get them to notice me and I shouted and shouted, but the wind carried my voice away.”

Ms Courteille went on to explain that each day of her ordeal she tied a rope around herself and slipped into the sea, so as to avoid direct sunlight.

Contemplating death, Ms Courteillle wrote on the dinghy’s sides, “I did not commit suicide! It was an accident with the engine that sent me off into the blue. I am very sad to die because I would have loved to see you live. I’m astonished that no one has come looking for me, because I’m three miles from the island and, after that, nothing. I love you all. Think of me from time to time while dropping a flower in the water.”

Help finally arrived yesterday in the form of a Indonesian fishing boat from the Yee Long Trading Company. The crew members took her on board and fed her biscuits and water, her first food for four days; all that she had consumed during her ordeal were her own urine and six antacid tablets.

Pol Sgt Yaomarn Chumchen of the Tourist Police told the Gazette that she was rescued around 5 pm. She explained that the Indonesian boat arrived in Phuket 12 hours later and that Ms Courteille was first taken to the fishermen’s accommodation in Pae Diok on Koh Sireh. Tourist Police officers later drove her to Bangkok Hospital Phuket for treatment for exposure and dehydration.

A former air hostess of Sabena Airlines and occasional professional translator, Ms Courteille is “a very lucky lady”, said Mr Neustifter, of Australia’s Gold Coast. “We’re looking at a living miracle,” he said. “It’s unbelievable.”

Ms Courteille managed to find something positive from her ordeal, telling friends that at night she had seen beautiful constellations. “You know, I was never afraid; I was sure that something [good] was going to happen.”

Dr Santi Lertnukkhid of BHP said, “She was in surprisingly good condition and was quite strong when she came in, considering that she has a history of congenital liver disease. This experience has been tough for her, but she survived.”

 

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Phuket

ICU beds for Covid-19 patients in Phuket are close to a “critical” low

Tanutam Thawan

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Covid-19 patients in severe condition may have to been transferred from a government hospital in Phuket to a private hospital as the number of available hospital beds at public intensive care units in Phuket is close to a “critical” low, according to Vachira Phuket Hospital Director Chalermpong Sukontapol.

There are 9 ICU rooms at the Vachira Phuket Hospital. 5 are being used for Covid-19 patients with severe symptoms while the other 4 rooms are for those with mild symptoms and are under observation before being moved to another bed.

“If the 9 rooms are full of severe symptom cases, that will be a big critical stage. We may need to transfer our patients to other provinces or private hospitals, which may involve additional costs.”

He says 50% of the Covid-19 patients in Phuket are asymptomatic while 30% have mild symptoms and 10% have severe symptoms. For most of those with severe symptoms, the virus has moved to their lungs and they are in need of special equipment, like ventilators, to help them breathe and Charlempong says those patients need to be under close observation.

SOURCE: Phuket News

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

For travellers to Phuket, testing is out, quarantine is in

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Phuket Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong (via Facebook)

The on-again-off-again plans for testing people for Covid-19 as they arrive in Phuket will be replaced by quarantine after May 15, according to Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong’s latest announcement. In an online video broadcast last night, the vice governor confirmed the new scheme after Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew first mentioned it in an executive meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday.

There are now 25 provinces on the Phuket red zone list that they instated on April 22, with anyone arriving from those places required to have proof that they are either fully vaccinated or tested negative for Covid-19 within the last 72 hours. Without proof, people have to take a rapid antigen test to confirm they did not have Covid-19 before they would be allowed on the island. The test was first set to be 300 baht for everyone, and later controversially made free for Thai people and 500 baht for foreigners.

There had been some back and forth with budget concerns of being able to provide the mass testing and who would pay how much for continued testing. Perhaps requiring people to quarantine in Phuket is cheaper than testing them when they arrive (cheaper for Phuket officials anyway).

The original scheme was set to expire May 15, and announcements were made about extending the plan and stopping testing right away. For now, this debate seems to have settled on replacing the testing with a mandatory quarantine upon entering Phuket.

The vice-governor explained that the rapid antigen test will continue through May 14, and then starting May 15, anyone who arrives without a vaccine or a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of arriving in Phuket will be required to quarantine for 14 days. They set a goal of zero new infections by the end of the next two weeks. And he stated they are committed to doing whatever it takes as “Phuket cannot continue with this risk”.

Speaking to The Phuket News… β€œWe want to send a sign to the country that we are cleaning up our province. The 3 vice governors [in Phuket] have been ordered to take care of each district by cooperating with local administration officers as well as community leaders to do proactive screening,”

After announcing the quarantine plan for Phuket, the vice governor spoke confidently that in the near future the island will have enough jabs to vaccinate every person on the island. Religious leaders from any faith are currently being vaccinated because of their general proximity to people during religious ceremonies and practices.

Vice Governor Piyapong pled with people with the people of Phuket who were on the fence about Covid-19 vaccinations, anti-vaxxers, or those otherwise resisting getting the jabs needed to reach herd immunity.

“If you are still deciding whether or not to get vaccinated, please come to get vaccinated”

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Phuket

Thailand News Today | Pfizer vaccines on the way, Phuket’s July re-opening | May 7

Tanutam Thawan

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Disease Control Department back-peddled saying that that foreigners living in Thailand WILL also be vaccinated, governor of Chiang Mai is calling for the ban on dining in at restaurants in the northern city to be lifted and for eateries to be allowed to serve food on-site until 9pm, Tourism and Sports Minister insists the southern island of Phuket must record zero Covid-19 cases if a planned July re-opening is to go ahead, and 150 million baht worth of methamphetamine pills were impounded in Nakhon Phanom yesterday

 

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