Phuket COVID-19 Sandbox Plan Has Hit A Snag, Schools Will Close For Two Weeks

Covid-19 has been confirmed in two more international arrivals, as well as the first cases of the Delta and Beta variants on Phuket. In response to the rising risk of infections, the Governor has ordered most schools on the islands to close for 14 days.
On their second test since arriving in Phuket, given on the 6th or 7th day, the children tested positive for Covid-19. As they are too young for Covid-19 vaccines and all their family members have been vaccinated, they entered the Sandbox unvaccinated.
Besides the children, 5 other members of both families have been moved to an alternative local quarantine facility for testing and observation.
Previously, a man from the UAE, who was diagnosed with Coronavirus and hospitalized along with 13 others on his flight (12 of which may have been family or friends) and 7 others who were in contact with him on the ground, had been infected with Covid-19.
The authorities are asking people not to panic – the number of infected out of the more than 2,500 arrivals is still very low statistically. In the first week of the Sandbox, 25 Covid-19 infections were reported, including 24 domestic transmissions, and this week in the past 3 days, 28 infections have been reported, including 26 domestic transmissions.
As a further complicating factor, yesterday the Phuket Communicable Disease Control Committee revealed that both the Beta and Delta variants of Covid-19 have been detected on the island.
Kusak Kukiattikoon, Chief of the Phuket Provincial Public Health Office, reported on the 10 new cases yesterday, confirming they were mostly caused by Thai people traveling overland from other regions. In contrast to international flight passengers, those arriving by land are not quarantined until their first Covid-19 negative test results are received.
In order to limit the spread of Covid-19 and keep the Phuket Sandbox bubble as safe as possible, all infected people and those in close proximity to them were immediately quarantined.
The more troubling aspect was Kusak’s announcement that one case of the Delta variant of Covid-19, known to be more contagious and reportedly resistant to the Sinovac vaccine, had been detected in the Phuket Sandbox several days ago. Details of the infected person were not disclosed, but it was stated that they have been receiving treatment in Phuket for the past five days.
It is unclear if the one case had already been identified on June 30, when Kusak denied social media rumors that the Delta variant was in Phuket. A total of 6 cases of the Beta strain of Covid-19 have been identified in the Phuket Sandbox, 2 new today. Authorities are waiting on assessment and guidance from the CCSA on how to proceed.
The committee also mentioned that there may not be enough staff to enforce entry requirements at the entry ports to Phuket Island at the meeting. They discussed adding staff and strengthening enforcement and prosecution of those intentionally violating the rules by charging them under the Communicable Diseases Act.


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