Government urged to let in 100,000 migrant workers from Myanmar despite Covid surge

The government in Thailand is being urged by larger Thai multinationals, and the construction and fisheries industry, to let in about 100,000 migrants from Myanmar, despite a recent surge in Covid-19 infections inside the kingdom. Officials say they will comply with the demands to let the migrant workers in, however, they will regulate their arrivals.

Suebsakun Kidnukorn, an academic with the Mae Fa Luang University’s School of Social Innovation in Chiang Rai says there are about 24,000 registered migrant workers in the city, excluding children, the elderly and undocumented workers.

Suebsakun says migrant workers have played an important part in developing Chiang Rai’s economy, adding that many are now having a hard time crossing the border due to Covid-19 restrictions. As a result, many workers are left stranded along the border, causing the civil sector to step in to help stranded Burmese and Thai migrant workers on both sides.

Adisorn Koetmongkol, the coordinator of the Migrant Working Group, says because the government has not allowed migrants workers who returned home, to re-enter Thailand, many of the migrants are sneaking in illegally and avoiding mandatory quarantines. The problem being that Myanmar currently has greater Covid challenges, with many workers remaining jobless.

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This illegal crossing of the Thai/Myanmar border has been attributed to Thailand’s recent surge in local Covid cases, including the most recent reports of over 570 new cases in just 1 day in the fishing province of Samut Sakhon.

Adisorn says if the government allows them to return in regulated numbers, with all being subjected to testing, quarantine and treatment facilities, it would solve a number of issues. Adisorn says the kingdom’s healthcare system for migrant workers was fairly good and it is important to find the source of the new infections reported.

Samut Sakhon is famous for its seafood industry and hosts a large number of migrant workers. Adisorn says the seafood business will be impacted by the surge in Covid infections.

Such a high amount of daily cases is the largest reported in Thailand since the pandemic began and has been attributed to the issue surrounding migrant workers sneaking in undetected in places such as Chiang Rai. So far, Thais and Burmese alike have been arrested for illegally entering, causing the Covid pandemic to strike again. Such areas as Bangkok, which are close to Samut Sakhon, have been advised to be on high alert and to prepare for another spread of infections.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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