Phuket urges extra caution after spike

Phuket urges extra caution after spike

People enjoy the sunset at a beach on Sept 17, 2021, as Phuket allows foreigners fully vaccinated against the coronavirus disease to visit the resort island. (Reuters photo)
People enjoy the sunset at a beach on Sept 17, 2021, as Phuket allows foreigners fully vaccinated against the coronavirus disease to visit the resort island. (Reuters photo)

Phuket's Public Health Office is urging tourism business operators on the island to strictly comply with Covid-19 control measures, particularly the regular use of antigen test kits (ATKs) to screen for possible cases, after 144 Omicron variant infections were detected in the province.

Koosak Kookiatkul, the island's public health chief, urged businesses to keep their guard up after active case finding on Dec 28 around Soi Bangla, or Bangla Walking Street, near Patong beach found 11 cases of the Omicron variant.

There are currently 144 cases involving the variant among both Thais and foreigners in Phuket, Dr Koosak said.

Dr Koosak urged all tourism business operators, especially those around Soi Bangla, to implement the strictest health and hygiene measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.

He said though businesses on Soi Bangla have set aside 300 ATKs for tourists each week to screen for Covid-19 and pushed to have their employees fully vaccinated, employees and patrons should continue to follow the "DMHTTA" rules -- distancing, mask wearing, handwashing, temperature testing, Covid testing and using a mobile tracing application.

Meanwhile, Weerawich Kruasombat, head of Patong's entertainment business operators union, called on businesses in the area to comply with the government's Covid-19 control measures more strictly amid the spike in Omicron infections.

"Bangla Road is very important to Phuket. For this reason, I would like to ask for the cooperation of owners, managers and other staff to have an ATK test every seven days at the parking lot behind Hollywood Phuket to cut the risk of contagion," he said.

Meanwhile, Bangsaen Beach in Chon Buri went quiet after a number of Omicron infections were reported around Pattaya. The rush to leave the area coincided with the last day of the New Year long holiday.

Chon Buri governor Phakarathon Tianchai said many people have lowered their guard as the Omicron variant is perceived to be milder. He urged people to be more careful, noting the number of infections in the province jumped significantly on Sunday and Monday, when 442 and 351 cases were reported respectively.

After further investigation, 80% of the infections were found to involve the Omicron variant, he said.

He said all tourism-related businesses and restaurants must regularly screen their employees and patrons with an ATK prior to entering the venue. If not, they risk being shut down.

There were 2,927 new Covid-19 cases and 18 deaths over the last 24 hours, the Public Health Ministry announced on Monday.

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