Bangkok Post: Phuket lockdown until April 30

The Phuket governor has issued an order barring people and vehicles from leaving and entering the southern island province as it confirms six more Covid-19 infections, bringing the total to 53.

With the approval of the provincial communicable diseases committee, Phuket governor Pakkapong Taweepat, who is in charge of emergency situations in the province, ordered the closure of all entry and exit points in the province, except for air travel, effective from midnight on Monday until April 30 or further notice.

Under the order, people and all kinds of vehicles are banned from entering and leaving the province via the Tha Chat Chai checkpoint, except those transporting food and essential items, fuel, construction materials, medical equipment, rescue operations vehicles, ambulances, vehicles for state operations, and vehicles carrying publications.

A ban is also imposed on people and all kinds of ships from entering and leaving the province through its international ports, except cargo ships. Upon finishing their operations, cargo ships and all crew, who are not allowed to disembark, must leave Phuket immediately.

People and all kinds of vessels are also prohibited from entering and leaving the province through inter-provincial waterways, except for ships carrying food and essential items, construction materials, medical equipment, rescue boats and medical emergency ships.

The order does not apply to the prime minister or those assigned to tackle emergencies, diplomats and consular officials, international organisations, and representatives of foreign countries, which have received permission from the Foreign Affairs Ministry or other state agencies.

Those who are exempted must have medical certificates issued in the past three days, and must comply strictly with disease control measures.

The resort province of Phuket has confirmed six more Covid-19 infections, bringing the total to 53, the provincial communicable diseases committee said on Sunday.

The six new cases, all linked to the Patong area, followed six new infections which were reported on Saturday. Of the 53 cases, 46 patients are still receiving treatment at hospitals, while seven have recovered.

The six new infections reported on Sunday include a Thai woman, 42, in Patong area, Kathu district. As the owner of a souvenir shop, she had been in close contact with many foreign tourists before falling ill on March 18.

Another case involves a 32-year-old Ukrainian national, a health business operator in tambon Karon, Muang district. She had had close contact with workers at entertainment venues in Soi Bangla, tambon Patong, and foreign tourists. She travelled to Bangkok between March 20-23 and fell sick on March 24.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases among healthcare professionals continues to rise, with eight more cases reported on Sunday bringing the total of cases among medical staff to 19.

The eight cases were among the 143 new infections announced by the Department of Disease Control on Sunday, which brought the total number of cases in Thailand to 1,388.

"Six of the eight medical personnel contracted the virus from their patients," said department deputy chief Tanarak Plipat, who added authorities were still trying to figure out where the other two caught the virus.

Doctors, nurses and other medical staff tend to be more vulnerable to contracting Covid-19 as personal protective equipment, such as face masks, are in short supply.

One of the most serious cluster infections involving medical personnel has turned up at Bannang Sata Hospital in Yala, where one doctor and two nurses were found to be infected, a source said.

The infections were detected between March 22-25, and the hospital was forced to scale back its operations. Bannang Sata Hospital is now only accepting serious cases, and the Public Health Ministry said patients were being sent to nearby hospitals. All hospital staff are being quarantined, it added.

Navy commander Admiral Ruechai Ruddit told media on Sunday that the navy will set up field hospitals to help handle Covid-19 patients. The navy will provide 1,200 extra beds.

Serious cases will be referred to Pinklao and Queen Sirikit hospitals in Bangkok, and Sattahip Naval Base in Chon Buri. Abhakorn Hospital in Sattahip will only handle mild cases.

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