According to Phuket Governor Narong Woosiew, Phuket will remain open to tourists under its Phuket Sandbox tourism promotion program despite a surge in new Covid-19 infections. The governor said in order to maintain the provincial economic recovery, local business operators are more concerned about the possibility of an island lockdown.
From January 1 – 3, 10,132 foreign visitors arrived in Phuket, a significant rise of daily arrivals from about 500 visitors per day in the early stages of the sandbox program. This has been an essential relief to the island’s financial situation.
According to Phuket’s Deputy Governor Phichet Panaphong, by testing between 3,000 – 5,000 foreign tourists every day, around 30-50 tourists are found infected.
Until now, Phuket has cooperated with 66 hotels that agreed to serve as hospitels to take in infected people with mild and moderate symptoms, said Mr. Phichet.
Meanwhile, Dr. Koosak Kookiatkul, head of the Phuket Public Health Office revealed that the Covid-19 infection rate is getting higher among both Thais and foreigners when compared with the data collected a couple of weeks earlier. The daily cases of new Covid-19 infections have been escalating from between 30 and 40 cases a day to more than 120 a day.
Phuket Governor Narong cited that on January 4, 2022, Phuket recorded 215 new Covid-19 infections, the highest daily number in a month. Meanwhile, most of the infections were visitors who entered via the Phuket Sandbox Program. However, the majority of infected people appeared to have mild symptoms of the Omicron coronavirus variant.
Mr. Narong added Phuket must prepare 1,000 hospitel rooms and hotel isolation services to take in more cases, because a lot more foreign visitors are making their way to the island. (NNT)