For Now, Thai Travelers Cannot Enter Phuket, No Word About The Phuket COVID-19 Sandbox Plan

Starting Aug 3, 2021, travelers from other provinces will no longer be able to enter Phuket, and the fate of the Phuket Sandbox scheme is still uncertain.
Governor Narong Woonciew signed a provincial order imposing stiffer travel restrictions on Phuket on Thursday. Outsiders are prohibited from traveling to Phuket, with the exception of those transporting essential goods, students, and emergency medical services. Those exempt from vaccination are still required to show proof of vaccination and vaccination at the entry checkpoint.
The Director-General of the Department of Disease Control (DDC), Kajornsak Kaewjaras, said the department will continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation in Phuket for another two weeks to decide whether to keep the Phuket Sandbox scheme.
Bangkok, he said, has done a good job controlling Covid-19 transmissions in the province, because 30 of the 12,395 foreigners visiting the island province have been identified and quarantined.
The province has succeeded in tracking down all infected visitors and preventing transmission to communities in this regard, he said.
Local tourism-related businesses have also been compliant with containment measures, according to Dr. Kajornsak. Over the past week, 148 cases have been reported in Phuket, according to the DDC. All of them came from other provinces. There are Phuket residents who have worked in other at-risk provinces and returned to Phuket to receive medical treatment.
However, Dr. Kajornsak said those at high risk will be isolated at local quarantine facilities. “There are currently nine active infection clusters in Phuket, all of which have been quarantined,” he said.
The DDC will wait for two weeks to determine whether there are any serious cases that require ventilators or not, he said. Phuket’s healthcare system is currently at about 36% capacity and can still treat new patients, he said.
The Phuket Sandbox scheme can continue for now, as recent inspections by Mr. Narong found no infections at those camps. The bubble and seal approach is also being implemented in an additional 800 worker camps as a precaution without the need for testing, Dr. Kajornsak said.
“We need another two weeks to assess the situation and assess whether local quarantine facilities can handle any additional patients.”

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