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Phuket Sandbox on two-week ‘watch’

PHUKET: The Phuket Sandbox scheme will continue for at least two more weeks while officials monitor the fallout from the rise in COVID-19 infections across the island, Dr Khajonsak Kaewjarat, Deputy Director of the Department of Disease Control (DDC), has confirmed.

Khajonsak Kaewjarat, Deputy Director of the Department of Disease Control (DDC), speaks to the press after the meeting at the Phuket EOC Command Centre today (July 29). Screenshot: PR Phuket

“From the evaluation under three criteria, Phuket Sandbox can continue, but we will spend the next two weeks monitoring to see whether Phuket is still able to control the number of new infections,” Dr Khajonsak explained after a meeting with Phuket officials today (July 29). 

“Regarding contact tracing, right now local people and tourists have given good cooperation to medical staff so they can identify which people were  infected from which cases, as well as clusters in various areas. Phuket has done very good work on finding cases,” he said. 

“For disease control, if any people confirmed an infected has to stay home and wait for a local quarantine room, even for one day, that means the medical system in Phuket cannot step forward in terms of disease control,” Dr Khajonsak said. 

“We will give Phuket about two weeks to see whether local quarantine venues in Phuket can handle the number of new people infected by not forcing any new cases to stay home and wait for staff for a day,” he said.

“For medical treatment, right now Phuket has many beds available for new infected cases, as 36% of them have received treatment in hospitals. Doctors and medical staff in Phuket are still able to handle the [current] number of cases,” he continued. 

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“There are no patients who need to use a breathing tube in Phuket, and that is pretty amazing. This is an indicator that Phuket Sandbox can keep continuing,” Dr Khajonsak said. 

“Additionally, more than 70% of people have received vaccination injections, so there is a low number of cases with severe symptoms,” he added. 

Meanwhile, Phuket Vice Governor Pichet Panapong today said that the Phuket Provincial Government has ordered all local administrative organisations (municipalities and OrBorTor) to find venues in each tambon (subdistrict) that are suitable for local quarantine in order to increase the the number of local quarantine rooms available to 1,500. 

Phuket Provincial Public Health Office (PPHO) Chief Dr Kusak Kukiattikoon on Tuesday confirmed that Phuket currently has 450 rooms as local quarantine venues.

Vice Governor Pichet today also said that officials are now discussing whether the current entry requirements for domestic travellers to enter Phuket are sufficient to protect the province from more infections, and discussing whether or to not to issue an order to stop migrant worker movement into and out of Phuket.

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