SOUTHERN coastal Phang Nga province logged 94 coronavirus cases today (Oct. 13) while the small Koh Panyee island, which is 20 minutes by longtail boat from Surakul pier on the mainland, got its first confirmed case, Siam Rath newspaper said this evening (Oct. 13).
Of the province’s 94 cases today 89 were Thais and five migrant workers with 36 emerging in Thai Mueang district, 26 in Kapong, nine in Khura Buri, five in Takua Pa and four each in Thap Put and Mueang Phang Nga. Four of the five migrant workers were infected in Takua Pa and the last one one in Thap Put.
As assigned by Mr. Adul Choothong, Mueang Phang Nga district chief, Mr. Wichai Chuchit, the district’s public health official, Mr. Ekawit Sanglang, the deputy district chief, and the province’s Communicable Disease Control Unit went to the small island and checked on the situation there.
The team travelled to the island on a boat despite strong wind and heavy rain and carried out swab tests on the residents with 26 high-risk individuals undergoing RT-PCR testing and quarantined in the Sultanate of Islam School.
Koh Panyee has a very interesting history. There are about 1,600 people from 360 families permanently living on the island. All of them are the descendants, directly or indirectly, of Toh Baboo and his family and friends, who were the first people to settle on Koh Panyee some 200 years ago, an article published by Hotels.com says.
Toh Baboo and two other families left their homeland in Indonesia by boat to look for a new place to live. They made a vow to each other that if one of them found a place where there were lots of fish and where everyone could live, they would signal the others by raising a flag on a mountain as high as possible.
Toh Baboo discovered Koh Panyee and, true to his promise, raised a flag atop its soaring cliff.
Koh Panyee is mostly made up of huge and almost vertical limestone cliffs. The hundreds of huts, shacks, restaurants and houses where the villagers live are built on stilts over the surrounding shallow sea. No one seems quite sure how many wooden and concrete piles hold up this extraordinary community, but it’s certainly a fascinating and unique feat of informal engineering.
The village has a school, a mosque, a health centre, lots of small souvenir shops, and a handful of large restaurants facing the Andaman Sea. There are even bungalows offering overnight accommodation. Worth seeing is the floating football pitch, built by the village children using old scraps of wood and fishing rafts. It helped Panyee FC become one of the most successful youth football teams in Southern Thailand.
Nationally there were 10,064 coronavirus cases and 82 deaths today with this taking the cumulative confirmed total since April 1 to 1,711,565, Amarin TV said.
The Public Health Ministry added that another 10,988 patients were cured taking total recoveries since April 1 to 1,587,917 with 107,168 still undergoing treatment.
Mueang Phang Nga district team travelling to Koh Panyee and performing tests there. Photos: Siam Rath