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Rawai sea gypsies targeted in pro-active screening

PHUKET: Phuket health officials conducted a COVID-19 proactive-screening campaign at the sea gypsy village in Rawai yesterday (May 2) amid concerns that the village could become an epicentre of local infections.

In total, swab samples were collected from 300 of the villagers to be subjected to RT-PCR tests, reported the Phuket office of the Public Relations Department (PR Phuket).

Present for the occasion were Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew, Rawai Mayor Aroon Solos, Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation (PPAO, or OrBorJor) President Rewat Areerob and Phuket Provincial Public Health Office (PPHO) Chief Dr Kusak Kukiattikoon.

Present to carry out and oversee the mass testing were medical staff and management from Rawai Municipality health office, Phuket Provincial Hospital, Bangkok Hospital Siriroj and the PPHO.

The campaign was conducted due to the close proximity the sea gypsies live in and the high interaction with other members of the community due to the seafood market set up on the fringe of the village, PR Phuket noted.

Dr Kusak explained that investigation by disease control officers had led them to learn that sea gypsies also often interacted with people from outside the Rawai area.

“In the past, there were rumors that caused panic among the general public,” he said.

The results of the RT-PCR tests were expected to be known later today (May 3), he added.


The mass-testing campaign in Rawai ahead of the PPHO confirming 15 new cases of COVID infection on the island just yesterday (May 2), bringing to 438 the total number of people in Phuket officially recognised as infected with COVID-19 since Apr 3.

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The report, marked as accurate as of 6pm last night, also marked that in addition to the 438 cases currently officially recognised, one was transferred for treatment.

The one case has already been publicly explained by officials to have been transferred to Bangkok for treatment. However, it has yet to be explained why the one case was being kept separated from the main number reporting the total number of confirmed infections since Apr 3.

The report did note that of the 438 cases, 216 were receiving hospital care and that 223 had already been discharged from hospital care.

The PPHO also reported that 2,594 people arriving onto the island were screened yesterday (May 2).

The report noted that 464 arrivals were screened at the airport, along with a further 1,534 people screened at the Phuket Gateway and 596 people checked at the Phuket Check Point at Tha Chatchai.

So far a total of 31,419 people arriving on the island have been screened on arrival since Apr 22, reported the PPHO.

Of those, 22 arrivals were confirmed as infected with COVID-19, giving a success rate of 0.07% of identifying COVID-positive arrivals.

Meanwhile the PPHO continues to publish timelines of movements in public by people now confirmed as infected with COVID-19. The latest timelines can be seen here.

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