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A quiet Phuket Internet cafe that may become even quieter from Monday

Phuket Internet Shops Protest at H1N1 Closure

Thursday, July 9, 2009
Wednesday Update

Vice Governor Tree Akaradat toured two Internet cafes on Wednesday and visited the small karaoke rooms at Ocean Plaza in Phuket City. While most 'net cafes remain open, he said they had generally improved cleaning standards.

Last Week's Phuketwan Report

PHUKET Internet cafes are hurting with the economic downturn and will hurt some more with the Cabinet plan today to shut them throughout Thailand for two weeks.

One island cafe proprietor, Khawhathai Samukkeetam, of Phuket City, said she disagreed with the closure, which is scheduled to begin from Monday and will last for two weeks.

Some shops may choose to close, others say they will not because the cost is too high. Tutoring schools are also being asked to close.

''It's not going to stop H1N1 from spreading,'' Khun Khawhathai said at her Success Internet Cafe in the suburb of Sam Kong today. ''There should be a better way.''

Internet cafes are public space and not the cause of the problem, she said. Her attitude was echoed by others.

''This is Thailand, not Mexico,'' a second proprietor said. ''Why not close the nightclubs and the pubs, too? It's very unfair and only seems to be happening here. Why?''

Khun Khawhathai said: ''It will make Internet cafes pay a high price for a problem that is not of their making.''

Regular customers are students from surrounding residential areas who will now have no place to gather as usual after school.

''Internet shops like mine are usually cleaned very thoroughly every day because we know that germs need to be prevented from spreading,'' she said.

Khun Khawhathai said there had been no information provided directly to her by Public Health. Her knowledge about H1N1 had all come via the internet or other sources.

As far as Phuketwan has been able to establish, closing premises for two weeks is not an option supported by the World Health Organisation.

Thailand's decision to close Internet cafes is believed to be a world first.

While some nightclubs and schools have been closed for two or three days to be cleansed, no private enterprises have been shut down entirely for two weeks.

Tourists on Phuket, in Bangkok and throughout Thailand who rely on Internet cafes for international communication will probably also wonder what the government proposes as an alternative for their daily contact with friends and family.

Wiroon Burirak, at the Cr@zy Cafe, also in Sam Kong, said: ''Why do they close internet cafes? We only have a few people here.

''What about pubs and clubs, where people are packed in tightly? It's not a good idea. If you close all the internet shops, it's not fair.''

Some Thai media outlets continue to score H1N1 fatalities as though it were a football match. As H1N1 is a pandemic, its progress can only be slowed, not stopped.

Tourists from other countries where the virus is more widespread (for example, Australia and Britain) will inevitably carry H1N1 with them when they come on holidays. Others will catch it here and take it home with them.

The virus is relatively mild and has a low fatality strike rate. At least one in every five people around the world are expected to have had it before the end of the year.

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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Unbelievable how blinkered the Thai Health Authorities are, as if things were not bad enough with the Drop in Tourist revenue the Airport closures and scams what a mess Thailand is turning into.

No wonder Hotel Rates are at 20 percent instead of 50 percent for low season. Can the same be said for Bali, Seychelles etc? I think not.

Posted by McFarang on July 9, 2009 16:35

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Hey have you not twigged on yet, it's not the flu thats a problem, the authorities are worried about cyber threats during the Asean summit, hahahaha.

Not the flu, folks.

You should also see the flowers and trees installed along the Surin roads, must have cost a truck load of money, pity about the bad state of the roads leading to Laguna though, that's what the leaders will remember, not pretty flowers.

Posted by Mouse on July 9, 2009 17:54

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I have to agree with the Cafe Owners ... what is closing them going to achieve? What bright spark came up with that one ... Probably the same one who came up with the Patong Tunnel or the SkyRail.

Posted by Noddy on July 10, 2009 00:22

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What about closing schools, movie theaters, Central Festival, Big C, Index, Tesco Lotus - big one, small one and the little one, public busses, tuk tuks, taxis, airports, airplanes, airport limos, universities and the asean summit.. .. .. the list goes on and on ?

Swine flu travels through the air, also from person to person. When your number is called up, boom you die, regardless of the manner.

Posted by Graham on July 10, 2009 17:09

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Maybe the closure is the only way to reserve enough bandwidth for the correspondents at Laguna during the summit? Just to show off the great internet connection of the future IT-Hub Phuket? ;-)

Posted by Fritz Pinguin on July 12, 2009 10:18


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