Bed shortage feared as Phuket cases rise

Bed shortage feared as Phuket cases rise

The number of Covid-19 infections in Phuket has begun to rise again and hospital beds will soon be in short supply, a provincial public health officer says.

Kooksak Kookiatkul, the Phuket public health office's doctor, said that Phuket logged 742 new Covid cases as of Sunday. Of these, 513 were local residents, two were foreign residents, 133 were arrivals under the Phuket Sandbox, and 94 arrivals under the Test & Go scheme.

"During the past seven days, an average of 340 new cases were detected in Phuket and the number is trending upwards," Dr Kooksak said.

"Hospital bed occupancy is increasing, and beds are running short, although fatality rates are declining."

Random samples collected by local health authorities found that 66.3% of infections were of the Omicron variant, he said, adding that local quarantine facilities for high-risk groups are also running short.

The Public Health Ministry has raised the Covid alert to Level 4 in Phuket and people have been warned not to visit at-risk premises, such as crowded gatherings, pubs and places with poor ventilation.

Returnees from other provinces have been encouraged to monitor their health for 14 days, work from home, get vaccinated and undergo antigen testing, Dr Kooksak said.

Those who get infected with Covid-19 are advised to dial 1330 to register for home isolation, while business operators have been urged to enforce the "bubble & seal" system if infections are detected in factories, he said.

Phuket governor Narong Woonciew said he has instructed local authorities to ensure there are sufficient medical resources to deal with the surge of new cases.

"Home and community isolation will be prioritised because most patients have mild or no symptoms and this will help free up hospital beds for more severe cases and for patients with other kinds of illness," Mr Narong said.

In Trat, Dr Bancha Sapphaso, the provincial public health office's doctor, reported 42 new cases on Monday, bringing the total to 9,650. Of that number, 82 have been confirmed as the Omicron variant, he said.

Niphon Pinyo, acting chief of Koh Chang National Park, said that the park has now been closed to tourists until further notice.

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