Phuket Tells Residents to Stay Inside For 14 Days, Or More

A man receives a body temperature on Phuket island on April 9, 2020.

PHUKET — Everyone, with a few exceptions, will be asked to stay indoors on Phuket island for at least 14 days starting Monday, the provincial governor announced.

Phuket governor Phakaphong Tavipatana issued the directive on Thursday in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus on the island, the second worst hit province in Thailand after Bangkok. The lockdown will last from April 13 to April 26, “or until the situation improves,” suggesting that the order could be extended.

Although the document itself says residents will be “asked to cooperate” by staying indoors, Vanida Yaprang, an official at the adhoc COVID-19 Center of Phuket province said on the phone Friday that it amounts to an order, enforceable with a punishment.

“It is an order. People can still come out if really necessary but only within each sub-district,” Vanida said. “Exceptions are medical staff, government officials and state enterprise workers. It is an order and those who violate it could face punishment.”

Violators face up to one year of imprisonment and a maximum fine of 100,000 baht under the Disease Control Act.

A checkpoint on Phuket island.

According to the document, people can only leave their home only when it’s absolutely necessary, such as buying food and other essentials. In the area of Patong, where the infection is particularly high, food and water will be delivered to the residents barred indoors.

All areas at sub-district level, known in Thai as tambon, will also be sealed off in order to identify infection clusters and control the spread of coronavirus.

Hotels and resorts on the island were instructed to shut down earlier this month. The latest order issued by the governor stated that in cases there’s a need for staff to stay on to work on necessary tasks, such as ledgering or maintenance, they must be housed at the establishments to avoid commuting.

The announcement came days after the governor sealed the popular tourist island province earlier this month and ordered air travel to be suspended. The governor justified the drastic measures by citing a rise in the number of confirmed infections there.

Phuket is at number two, after Bangkok, when it comes to the number of infected people. As of Friday noon, 166 people in Phuket have been infected by the coronavirus, with the bulk concentrated on entertainment areas around Patong Beach.

Pro-active testing of those suspected of contracting the virus is now being conducted on the island.