Burma

Nearly 1,200 Coronavirus-Positive Myanmar Workers in Thailand’s Tak Need Help, Groups Say

By The Irrawaddy 10 July 2021

Around 1,180 Myanmar migrant workers in Mae Sot in western Thailand’s Tak Province have caught coronavirus and are in need of help, according to labor rights organizations based in the town.

“There are not many health and welfare benefits for migrant workers suffering from COVID-19. They have to spend from their own pockets to pay medical costs, and it is not easy for them to go to hospitals and clinics,” said Ma Thuzar from the Mae Sot-based labor rights organization Yaung Chi Oo.

Some five factories that employed Myanmar migrant workers have closed since the COVID-19 epidemic broke out in March last year. Some of the workers have managed to find new jobs, and some have sued their employers as they were not given compensation. 

Civil society organizations engaged in promoting the labor rights of Myanmar migrant workers have been helping them obtain redundancy payments and providing aid for those in need with the help of donors. 

“Most of the workers rent apartments outside their factories. Many are struggling to pay rent and buy food,” Ma Thuzar said. 

Thai health authorities do not provide proper healthcare for infected Myanmar migrant workers, simply setting up quarantine centers inside their factories, labor rights organizations say. 

The Thai Health Ministry reportedly announced on June 28 that it would not provide free medical care for Myanmar migrant workers. 

Tak provincial authorities imposed a curfew on Thursday amid increasing COVID-19 infections in Mae Sot, a town on the Myanmar-Thai border. The curfew is from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. for migrant workers and from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. for Thai citizens.

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

Thailand recorded more than 9,300 new COVID-19 infections with 91 deaths on Saturday.

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