Hundreds of Myanmar Migrant Workers in Thailand Infected in Mass COVID-19 Outbreak

By The Irrawaddy 1 July 2021

Over 600 Myanmar migrant workers were infected with COVID-19 in Mae Sot in Thailand’s Tak Province in June, according to Myanmar migrant workers’ groups based in Thailand, while more than 250 Myanmar fishermen in southern Thailand also tested positive for the virus in June.

In Mae Sot, coronavirus tests were carried out after a female migrant worker from a garment factory in a village where some 3,000 Myanmar migrant workers are employed caught the virus. Six hundred and forty more workers tested positive.

As it is impossible for all of them to be admitted to hospitals, patients are being isolated in the village and health workers have travelled to them to provide treatment, said U Moe Gyo, the chairman of the Mae Sot-based Joint Action Committee for Burma Affairs.

“In case of infections in wards and blocks, residents have to take responsibility by themselves. The government has reduced its burden. They will only come and inspect the place under lockdown and give injections. That’s all,” he said.

Thai authorities have imposed a lockdown on the whole village along with the two garment factories where the Myanmar migrant workers are working.

Myanmar nationals in the village are having difficulties buying food due to the lockdown, so volunteers are buying them food and medicines, said another Mae Sot-based labor rights organization called Yaung Chi Oo.

“As the area was placed under lockdown, even the people who tested negative can’t go out or leave. They are having difficulties buying food. So labor rights and humanitarian organizations run by Myanmar nationals are helping them,” said U Moe Kyaw of Yaung Chi Oo.

The mass outbreak of COVID-19 among Myanmar migrant workers was the first in Mae Sot, according to Myanmar labor rights organizations based in Thailand.

More than 250 coronavirus cases have also been recorded in June among Myanmar fishermen working in Phang Nga Province in southern Thailand, after the first case was reported in a Thai citizen on June 8.

“Some fishermen have returned to their homes after two weeks of quarantine, but they are still required to stay at home and can’t go outside,” said U Min Oo from the Foundation for Education and Development, a Burmese-led non-governmental organization based in Phang Nga.

Large numbers of COVID-19 cases have also been reported among Myanmar migrant workers in other parts of Thailand, including the capital Bangkok and the neighboring provinces of Samut Prakan and Samut Songkhram.

Thailand recorded 5,333 new COVID-19 infections on June 30 and 57 fatalities, a record daily death toll for the country.

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