Phuket port to close due to infections on trawler

Phuket port to close due to infections on trawler

Phuket province is preparing to temporarily close the Phuket Fishing Port of the Fish Marketing Organisation (FMO) for Covid-19 containment, after a trawler's 95 crew members were found to have contracted the disease.

The Delta variant of Covid-19 is now dominant in the province, resulting in a spike of infection rates, compared with figures from mass testing conducted last month.

Provincial public health office chief Koosak Kookiattikul said the 95 crew members are asymptomatic and healthy.

They were detected during the past few weeks and preferred to quarantine on their trawlers rather than go to a field hospital.

Elderly and people who suffer chronic diseases will be brought to hospital, Dr Koosak said.

Last week, Dr Koosak joined the provincial governor and the provincial Fisheries Office to randomly test 100 people; 30% of those who tested positive for Covid were Myanmar migrants.

Four Thais and 12 Myanmar tested positive among 47 crew on Tuesday. The healthy ones will be treated according to their symptoms, Dr Koosak said.

Phuket Fishery Association president Somyot Wongboonyakul said the association agreed that a major Covid cluster was believed to have grown at the Phuket Fishing port which has a fleet of about 40 trawlers with 25-30 crew members each.

The association consulted with the provincial Fisheries Office about asking the province to suspend port operations for 14 days to isolate the infected and put at-risk group in quarantine on their trawlers, Mr Somyot said.

Phuket has a capacity to produce 100,000 tonnes of seafood per year.

Watcharin Ratanachu, chief of the provincial Fisheries Office, said there are 3,000 labourers, 1,400 of them Thais, in the province's fisheries sector.

Covid preventive measures have been imposed to screen everyone at the ports, as well as controlling trawlers across the province.

From now on, every vendor must hold vaccination proof and negative test result documents before reaching the port to buy produce.

As surroundings of the port are close to four main communities, the measures must be tightened to ensure there are no external and internal factors of infections, Mr Watcharin said.

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