Officials in Thailand have reacted to a series of stories on the Phuket Sandbox circulating on social media by branding them “fake news”.
Main picture Palai Bay, Phuket, Thailand, credit Edwin Lee on flickr
Stories have been spreading that the Sandbox is in imminent danger of closure due to increasing Covid-19 cases on the island.
“The Phuket Sandbox is still going strong, judging from the number of flights per day, with daily arrivals of about 600, and booked room nights of more than 100,000.
Although some tourists were found to have Covid-19, this was not unexpected.
We have prepared measures to prevent new clusters occurring.”Piyapong Chuwong, Phuket Deputy Governor
The Phuket Sandbox started on 1st July, allowing fully vaccinated travellers to visit the island without the need for quarantine. They must however test negative for the virus on numerous occasions and stay in registered accommodation for the first 14 days.
The Phuket Sandbox would by suspended if 90 or more new cases are confirmed on the island in any rolling one week period. In the first 11 days of the Sandbox there were 58 new infections in Phuket.
Almost 5,000 foreign tourists have so far arrived in Phuket, with 7 so far testing positive for Covid-19. The infected tourists are from the United Arab Emirates, Myanmar (3), South Africa (2) and Switzerland.
Thanakorn Wangboonkongchan, secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office as well as the minister and spokesman for the Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) has confirmed that the social media posts are false and that tourists are continuing to arrive in Phuket.
“The infections found among the Phuket Sandbox arrivals will not cause the programme to collapse.
In this situation, the chance of seeing zero infections is very slim.
We have 23 medical teams to investigate any infections. Those considered high risk are quickly quarantined.
Our vaccination programme has covered over 70% of the Phuket population.”
All disease control measures are being fully enforced.”kusak Kukiatikoon, Chief Phuket Provincial Health Office
He called for people to stop sharing the posts to prevent panic (around a Phuket outbreak) and concern from tourists.
Source: Bangkok Post
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