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Man’s death raises alarm about homeless during the pandemic

Caitlin Ashworth

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PFILE PHOTO: CODI

A homeless man died recently of pneumonia, raising the alarm of Thailand’s homelessness problem during the pandemic. A few days before he died the man, who has not been identified, went to a community pantry in Suphan Buri, just outside Bangkok, and took home just one carton of milk, according to Nation Thailand. He then developed a fever last week, testing negative for the coronavirus, but died a few days later from pneumonia.

An official from the Social Development and Human Security said she will talk to the local governor about finding solutions to people considered homeless, through the impact of the Covid-19 measures or longer term. Some netizens say the government’s recent emergency restrictions and lockdowns, intended to slow the spread of the virus, were hard on the homeless population who fell through the cracks of the government’s stimulus or welfare packages.

With curfews and stay at home orders, the Human Rights Watch raised the question “how can people stay at home if they are homeless?” Last month, a Chiang Mai homeless man was arrested for breaking curfew, according to the HRW.

Many homeless people do not have access to coronavirus prevention supplies, and the HRW says government-run shelters are often overcrowded, leaving little room for social distancing. The Isaan Record reported last month that some people in the Khon Kaen area have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic and are now on the streets.

“They don’t have access to tools or knowledge that can prevent them from getting Covid-19, such as masks, hand sanitiser, clean water and even a place to quarantine themselves,” a coordinator for the Friends of Homeless charity group told the Isaan Record.

SOURCES: Nation Thailand | Human Rights Watch | Isaan Record

 

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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