Phuket in Thailand is on lockdown starting Monday, with all transportation to the island banned except by air, in the latest effort to contain the spread of novel coronavirus in the popular tourist destination.
The order will last for at least for one month, according to Phuket Governor Pakkapong Taweepat. Vehicles and vessels providing essential goods and services are exempted.
The southern province is the country’s first to carry out such measures. Restricting access to the island is a toughening of state-of-emergency rules imposed by the government last week under which non-essential businesses are shut and inter-provincial travel is discouraged but not banned.
Phuket has one of Thailand’s biggest clusters of Covid-19 cases, along with another popular tourist destination, Pattaya, as well as Bangkok and several provinces in the south. Cases in Thailand rose by 143 to 1,388, the Health Ministry said on Sunday, with one additional death reported to bring the count to seven fatalities. The case surge in recent days raised concerns that hospitals in some areas may not be able to handle a large number of patients.
The Thai Navy has prepared 1,200 extra beds at its facilities to prepare for patients with Covid-19, according to Commander-in-Chief Luechai Ruddit.
Phuket is expected to be one of the nation’s worst-hit provinces by the outbreak due to its reliance on tourism industry. About 56 percent of total employment was in tourism-related industries, the Bank of Thailand said in a note. Last month, Thailand’s tourism receipt plunged to the lowest since 2015.Artikel Asli