Hundreds of Myanmar Migrants Infected with COVID-19 in Chiang Mai

By The Irrawaddy 20 July 2021

More than 600 COVID-19 cases were reported this month in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand and a non-governmental organization estimates that migrant workers from Myanmar account for some 30 percent of infections.

“We have asked the Thai health ministry but it refused to give all the details. We estimate migrants from Myanmar account for some 30 percent of infections,” said Nan Hla Yone, spokeswoman of the Map Foundation, an NGO helping migrants.

The ministry provides treatment for migrants suffering from COVID-19 even if they have no health insurance cards, she said. But the ministry does not treat non-cardholders with other health problems.

“In Chiang Mai, if you test positive for coronavirus, the health ministry provides medical treatment for free. It also helps the unemployed migrants without health insurance cards,” she said.

The Thai authorities have imposed lockdowns on three construction sites where migrants are employed in Chiang Mai and also placed 68 workers, including employees from Myanmar, under quarantine.

Travel has been restricted in Muang and Saraphee in Chiang Mai this month after COVID-19 cases were reported, said Nan Hla Yone.

A migrant said she is staying at home in case she is arrested with the virus while she has no work permit and health insurance card.

“We have no permits and insurance and will not receive any treatment if we catch coronavirus. So we stay at home as we can get arrested [for violating visa regulations] if we are infected in a cluster and they trace our contacts,” she said.

Civil society organizations have been asked to register migrants to receive COVID-19 jabs for free. Migrant workers have until October to register.

“They can get jabs for free if they wish. We have started registering all migrants with or without health insurance cards this week. The registration lasts until October,” said Ma Nan Hla Yone.

There are over 70,000 officially registered migrant workers in Chiang Mai from Myanmar.

Thailand reported over 11,000 COVID-19 cases nationwide with 81 deaths on Monday with 46 new cases in Chiang Mai.

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