Satun’s Koh Lipe temporarily closed after sea gypsies test positive
The 28-day closure of the popular tourist destination Koh Lipe will boost the confidence of local and foreign travellers in the long run, Satun governor Ekkarat Leesen said on Thursday.
His aim is to link the island to the Phuket Sandbox scheme.
Koh Lipe has been shut to outsiders since Monday after 58 of 160 sea gypsies tested positive for Covid-19 via rapid antigen tests. Of the 58, 16 have been admitted to Satun Hospital, while the rest are being quarantined in the Koh Lipe community facilities.
Another 120 people who are at high risk are also being isolated.
“The situation is better thanks to the rapid test kits. The number of new cases has risen slightly but is not expected to rise any further. The Red Cross has also sent more rapid test kits and food, while the subdistrict administrative organisation is also providing help. The situation has stabilised to an extent,” Ekkarat said.
The local Social Security branch, which is some 70 kilometres from Koh Lipe, has also been told to take care of social security beneficiaries.
The governor explained that the island had to be closed to tourists, so the number of infections does not get out of hand. Also, he said the island will be cleaned and the authorities will meet business owners to come up with solutions.
The provincial authorities have set up a food supply system for the island’s two communities under lockdown.
He said if there are no new infections in 14 days, a clean-up campaign will be launched before the island opens to tourists after 28 days. He said he is confident tourists will want to visit and he will try to make the island part of the Phuket Sandbox scheme.