Health Minister considers making lawbreakers pay for Covid treatment

Thailand’s Public Health Minister is considering making lawbreakers pay for their own Covid-19 treatment after pointing out that those who put the public at risk for the coronavirus should foot the bill for treatment.

Anutin Charnvirakul floated the idea on his Facebook after a meeting yesterday raised concerns about illegal gambling activities and human-smuggling that has contributed to the rise in infections, especially those migrant workers in Samut Sakhon, Thailand’s new Covid hotspot.

Now, as Thailand has reached 10,053 infections, with around 6,000 occurring during the second wave, the focus is turning to those who cross the border illegally. Some 200-300 Thais had allegedly crossed the border in the north to work at casinos and were trying to return home after such places were closed due to Covid.

It is estimated that more than 100 Thais were left stranded just across the border in Myawaddy, Myanmar after the shutdowns occurred. And now, the chief of police has travelled to Tak province’s Mae Sot district, where the migrants are largely coming back from Myanmar.

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The chief is inspecting border control areas as 40 Thai people recently returned from Myanmar, with 17 testing positive for Covid. However, that group of returnees reportedly cooperated with law enforcement and entered quarantine upon arriving.

Security officials from both countries are currently discussing how to control the situation after finding out that a casino in Myanmar, which employs 300 local and Thai staff, experienced a Covid outbreak.

A coordinating centre was set up to work with the Sky Complex Casino in Myawaddy town to make sure that all Thai staff who wished to return are following the law. Regardless, Anutin says law breakers are putting a strain on the public health system and depriving others of medical attention as hospitals were forced to ration out medical services.

“The money that is supposed to be spent to provide medical care to the public will be used to look after those who break the laws and who knows for how long and how much. And for how long other people will lose their income and opportunities?”

“So the question is, should the government pay for treatment of the law-breakers, or it should pay and send the bills to those responsible for bringing in new patients?”

“I’ll discuss this issue with agencies concerned to deter irresponsible acts because they think it is the government’s job to provide free medical treatment when they’re ill.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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