Myanmar & COVID-19

Thailand to Step Up COVID-19 Testing of Myanmar Migrant Workers

By The Irrawaddy 14 January 2021

Thai health authorities have announced they will accelerate COVID-19 testing for Myanmar workers in Samut Sakhon, with an estimated 35,000-plus migrants working in 400 factories in the province near Bangkok expected be tested by Jan. 24. 

Samut Sakhon is home to a large number of factories and migrant workers, most of whom come from Myanmar. The wholesale seafood market at the epicenter of the latest outbreak, which began in December, employs a large community of Myanmar migrants. Some 300,000 to 400,000 Myanmar people work in seafood markets and processing plants in Thailand.

According to The Bangkok Post, provincial chief public health officer Naretrit Khatthasima said health officials are intensifying screening and searches for active cases, adding that such proactive steps had succeeded in containing the outbreak. Last month, infections in more than 50 provinces across Thailand were traced to the Samut Sakhon, which has since been locked down. Thai authorities have opened field hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients in the province, many of whom are Myanmar migrant workers. These facilities have already treated many coronavirus patients with mild symptoms. The province’s fourth COVID-19 field hospital is set to open this week.

On Sunday, 292 Myanmar migrants were discharged from a field hospital set up inside a sports stadium in Samut Sakhon. They were the first group of migrants to leave the facility after recovering from COVID-19. The workers were declared free of the virus before being allowed to leave the facility, The Bangkok Post reported.

The governor of Samut Sakhon was among those to have contracted the disease, but has almost fully recovered. Verasak Vichitsangsri’s blood tests showed a normal reading with his kidneys and digestive system working fine, according to Dr. Prasit Watanapa of the Siriraj Hospital Faculty.

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