Concern over conflicting COVID testing on Phuket Sandbox tourists


PHUKET: Provincial authorities fear that nearly half of foreign tourists who have tested positive for COVID-19 since July 1 were detected upon arrival at the airport, despite having tested negative before obtaining a certificate of entry allowing them to board their flight.

Phuket Airport General Manager Thanee Chuangchoo conducts Sandbox Tourist Arrival Process Inspection at Phuket Airport. Photo: AoT Phuket / file

They raised the issue with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Tourism Authority of Thailand, reports the Bangkok Post.

Vachira Phuket Hospital Director Chalermpong Sukontapol said on Monday (July 19) that provincial officials had consulted with the two government agencies over conflicting test results.

As of midnight Saturday (July 17), 16 Sandbox tourists had tested positive for COVID-19 since arriving in Phuket. Seven of them were detected at Phuket airport.

Another tourist was detected with the coronavirus about three days after arriving.

Dr Chalermpong said neither he nor Provincial Governor Narong Woonciew had said that the issuance of the Certificate of Entry (COE) needed to be controlled more strictly. But they questioned the high number of conflicting test results for people with COE who are retested upon arrival.

Phuket opened the door to fully vaccinated tourists from July 1. One of the requirements is to obtain a COE from an embassy or consulate to allow them to board a flight to the island. This requires a negative COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours before departure.

A total of 7,462 foreign visitors had arrived in the province by midnight on Saturday, according to official figures.


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