Bed shortage feared as Phuket cases rise

The number of Covid-19 infections in Phuket has risen again and hospital beds will soon be scarce, says a provincial health officer.

Phuket Health Department doctor Kooksak Kookiatkul said Phuket had recorded 742 new Covid cases as of Sunday. Of these, 513 were local residents, two were foreigners, 133 were arrivals as part of the Phuket Sandbox and 94 arrivals as part of the Test & Go program.

“An average of 340 new cases have been discovered in Phuket over the past seven days and the number is growing,” said Dr. Kooksak.

“Hospital bed occupancy is increasing and beds are becoming scarce, although the death rate is falling.”

Samples collected by local health officials found that 66.3% of infections were from the Omicron variant, he said, adding that local quarantine facilities for high-risk groups are also running out.

The Ministry of Health has raised the Covid warning in Phuket to level 4, and people have been warned not to visit high-risk areas such as crowded gatherings, pubs and places with poor ventilation.

Returnees from other provinces were encouraged to monitor their health for 14 days, work from home, get vaccinated, and have antigen tests, said Dr. Kooksak.

Those infected with Covid-19 are advised to dial 1330 to sign up for home isolation, while business owners have been urged to enforce the “Bubble & Seal” system if infections are found in factories, he said.

Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew said he had directed local authorities to ensure adequate medical resources are available to deal with the spate of new cases.

“Isolation at home and in the community will be a priority as most patients will have mild or no symptoms and this will help free up hospital beds for more severe cases and for those with other types of illness,” Narong said.

In Trat, Dr. Bancha Sapphaso, the doctor with the province’s public health department, reported 42 new cases on Monday, bringing the total to 9,650. Of that number, 82 have been confirmed as an Omicron variant, he said.

Niphon Pinyo, acting chief of Koh Chang National Park, said the park is now closed to tourists until further notice.

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