Phuket is reporting an average daily caseload of about 500 Covid-19 infections, with roughly one-quarter coming from tourists, said Dr Koosak Kookiatkul, the provincial public health chief.
Out of every 500 cases on average, 380 are local and 120 from international arrivals using the Sandbox and Test & Go programmes, he said. The resort island is welcoming about 3,000-3,500 foreign visitors a day at present, he noted.
The island still has plenty of hospital beds available for people with Covid-19 as those reserved for patients in critical condition are only 10% occupied, compared to 65% occupancy for those with moderate symptoms and 61% for those with mild symptoms.
About 1,900 people who have tested positive for Covid-19 are in home isolation on the island as they have not shown any symptoms, Dr Koosak said.
Over 88% of people in the province have received their first vaccination shots, while 85.5% have had two jabs, 55% have received a third shot and nearly 10% have had four jabs, he noted.
Since the start of the year, Phuket has recorded three deaths from the previously prevalent Delta variant.
Meanwhile, Vachira Phuket Hospital is providing RT-PCR tests at 1,300 baht apiece for infected patients who need the lab results to quarantine at hospitals. Hospital director Dr Weerasak Lorthongkham said the result can also be used as confirmation to claim insurance coverage. On average, the hospital is conducting 100 RT-PCR tests a day.
Elsewhere in Thailand, the Chon Buri Tourism Council has joined hands with the Pattaya Business and Tourism Association, Hotel Associations of the Eastern Region and eight other tourism agencies to provide rapid ATK Covid-19 tests for free to 6,000 Thai workers in the service sector.
The goal is to mitigate the spread of the disease and ensure tourists of their safety while travelling in the province, said Thanet Supornsahasrungsi, the council's acting president.
Nearby in Rayong, a group of visitors cancelled a trip to Koh Samet yesterday after learning they needed to pay a 330-baht fee for ATKs as they did not have a valid test result conducted within 72 hours of boarding a ferry to the island.
Pathida Limprasit, 52, a tour operator from Surin province in the Northeast, said she brought 10 Swedish tourists to visit Koh Samet. When they arrived at the pier, she was asked to show the group's ATK test results.
She said she decided to cancel the trip because the service fee was too high, especially as the tourists had all been fully vaccinated and had passed quarantine.
Ferry owner Thara Bunkokeu said after the province announced the requirement on Jan 20, many tourists had decided not to visit the island.
"Most tourists just plan a one-day trip so when they hear about the ATK fee, they decide not to bother," he said. "I'm losing about 10,000 baht a day. I urge the authorities to either reduce the test fee or revoke the measure."