Myanmar Suspends Overseas Employment Process to Counter Coronavirus 

By Thazin Hlaing 18 March 2020

Yangon — The Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population on Tuesday announced a suspension of its overseas employment process amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The Department of Labor has instructed the overseas employment agencies to stop issuing employment contracts as of Wednesday (March 18). The department has also suspended issuing overseas employment identity cards.

The department said it had sent the directive to overseas employment agencies, labor attaché offices in foreign countries and other organizations.

“The process will be temporarily suspended due to Covid-19. All the [labor attaché] offices will be closed for now,” Myanmar’s labor attaché U Ye Yan Aung in Bangkok told The Irrawaddy.

Thailand, Malaysia and Japan are the top destinations of migrant workers from Myanmar using the Myanmar Overseas Employment Agencies Federation (MOEAF).

Between 700 and more than 1,000 migrants left for Thailand per day, between 500 and 1,000 went to Malaysia each month and around 100 headed to Japan per month, the MOEAF said.

Some employment agencies still have workers to send and the MOEAF would listen to agencies and workers and hold discussions with the Labor Ministry, said MOEAF general secretary Daw Paw Lin.

“Some agencies said they will have to suffer [a suspension]. We will talk to them. They said they have workers to send and it would be better if they get a few more days [before any suspension],” Daw Paw Lin told The Irrawaddy.

“The ministry has done this to protect the public. I think it would be better to stay in our country, which has not seen the virus, rather than run into troubles in other countries,” she added.

In Thailand, 147 cases and one death were reported by Tuesday noon.

The World Health Organization on March 11 declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The virus has spread globally across over 140 countries and the death toll topped 7,900 with more than 199,000 confirmed cases since December. No confirmed cases have been reported in Myanmar.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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