Phuket boss eases road pass checks

Phuket boss eases road pass checks

fewer on-spot swabs needed

Phuket has revamped its health surveillance measures to attract more domestic tourists and ease the workload on healthcare workers screening incoming visitors by road, says the provincial office.

Provincial governor Narong Woonciew said on Saturday more than 30,000 people have travelled to Phuket in the sandbox tourism programme launched in July.

As the high tourism season from November to February is approaching, many domestic tourists are expected to arrive. This has prompted changes to public health measures imposed at the Chatchai road checkpoint, where much land traffic to and from Phuket passes.

About 700-800 people pass through the checkpoint daily, creating a heavy workload for medical and health workers who juggle their time between testing incoming visitors at the checkpoint and caring for Covid-19 patients at local facilities.

Mr Narong said visitors are now able to test for Covid-19 at accredited medical outlets in their provinces and submit the results to officials once they reach the Chatchai checkpoint instead of having an on-the-spot swab test there.

The change has lightened the workload of officials at the checkpoint and made trips to Phuket less of a hassle.

At the same time, the province intends to vaccinate 200,000 people with booster doses, through the subcutaneous, under-skin, injection method, by the end of this month.

The governor said the reason Phuket's active cases have not gone down is because the province's communicable disease control office has been on a mass-testing campaign targeting up to 3,000 people a day. Of them, around 6% are found to be Covid-19 positive, he said. "We've will be doing mass testing for a while longer because we want to tackle the spread of the virus," the governor said.

Local public health units respond immediately to the discovery of at-risk groups and health checks and tests are underway. "The goal is to bring down the curve before the month is out," Mr Narong said.

He said there are now enough beds for those with few symptoms. He said visitors to Phuket can be assured they will get adequate care if they fall sick while holidaying in the province.

Chalermpong Sukhonthaphol, director of Wachira Phuket Hospital, said people in Phuket wanting booster doses must be fully vaccinated with the Sinovac vaccine before July. They can book vaccination appointments for their third shots until the end of the month via www.ภูเก็ตต้องชนะ.com (Phuket Will Win website).

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