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Meeting reveals Thai vs foreigners in Phuket Sandbox, other stats

Neill Fronde



PHOTO: New data details show less than 17% of all international arrivals in the Phuket Sandbox are returning Thai nationals. (via Flickr Jeff Gunn)

Statistics and data regarding the Phuket Sandbox can be cloudy and conflicting, but at yesterday’s meeting of the Phuket Communicable Disease Committee, some rarely shared figures were discussed. One often questioned detail is how many people in the numbers reported for international traveller arrivals are truly tourists and how many are even foreigners at all.

During the meeting, it was mentioned that 5,156 people had flown in internationally as part of the Phuket Sandbox reopening as of yesterday. While there isn’t any survey of arrivals to determine if they are returning expats or holiday-making tourists, they did cite the statistic that 858 of these arrivals were Thai nationals. That number, less than 17% of all arrivals, might surprise Sandbox sceptics that believed a large portion of those passengers were only Thai people stuck abroad during Covid-19 and finally returning home.

More bad news during the meeting is that the number of domestic travellers entering Phuket was falling and is expected to continue to lessen in the coming days and weeks. The decrease is mainly the result of restrictions continuing to tighten making it harder to enter Phuket and leaving fewer people eligible who meet the qualifications to enter. Today saw the new rule that travellers from dark red zones need to be fully vaccinated to enter.

Authorities report that an average of 432 people are being turned away at the checkpoint each day for not meeting to requirements to enter Phuket. Inside Phuket will see some crackdowns as well, with the Phuket Provincial Public Health Office planning random inspections of venues like shopping centres, schools, shops, businesses, and religious sites to make sure Covid-19 measures were being followed.

The first cases of international Covid-19 infections in the Sandbox were also discussed. At the time there were 7, but today 3 more people returned positive tests making 10 total. Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew asked officials to continue to report vital statistics including infections and how many people left the Sandbox early. Rumours of the Sandbox’s failures may have been overestimated by including people who came for short holidays and left when they finished and business travellers in town only a few days, and not just the 14 people who opted to return home after being exposed to the first international Covid-19 infection and had to quarantine 14 days.

Finally, the meeting reviewed the hospital and vaccine situation in Phuket, noting that 109 beds out of 640 beds total are currently occupied, with 76 people currently being treated for Covid-19. Vaccinations were also resuming tomorrow with the Ministry of Public Health reserving more vaccines for Phuket.

SOURCE: The Phuket News


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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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