Phuket calls for 'endemic' designation

Phuket calls for 'endemic' designation

A sunset is pictured at Koh Khai Nok in Phuket province on Jan 3, 2022. (Reuters photo)
A sunset is pictured at Koh Khai Nok in Phuket province on Jan 3, 2022. (Reuters photo)

Phuket is offering itself as the first province to declare the spread of Covid-19 as an endemic despite a growing number of infections among tourists, according to an official.

"Phuket would be delighted to be the first province for the declaration," Deputy Governor of Phuket Pichet Panapong said on Sunday. "I hope this will help alleviate concerns about the virus and [shift] focus to economic restoration instead."

Endemic status is given if a province's infection rate does not exceed 10,000 new cases per day, while the fatality rate does not exceed 0.1%, and more than 80% of at-risk people have received two coronavirus vaccine doses, he said, citing the National Communicable Disease Committee.

Mr Pichet said the province also will ask the government to shorten the quarantine period from 10 to five days.

In the first five days, an infected person should be required to quarantine at home, a hospitel or hospital before being permitted to resume their lives for another five days under strict Covid-19 prevention measures to solve work leave issues, he said.

The daily report on the number of new Covid-19 infections should be cancelled and instead focus on reports of moderate-to-severe cases, he said.

Mr Pichet insisted Phuket is safe as it has sufficient resources to take care of locals and visitors.

The province has also expedited giving vaccine jabs to young children, together with various measures including making face masks mandatory, he said.

It has also worked with a clinic to provide basic Covid-19 treatments and advice for the provincial administration, while distributing favipiravir pills among patients with mild symptoms and providing isolation measures, he said.

However, the infection rate among tourists is still a major problem as up to 3% of them were found to be infected while 4% were detected in second tests, he said.

On Saturday, Phuket logged 549 domestic cases, including 67 from people under the sandbox scheme and 49 from the Test & Go scheme.

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