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Arrivals from Myanmar targeted amid COVID-19 fears

Arrivals from Myanmar targeted amid COVID-19 fears

PHUKET: Phuket Vice Governor Phichet Panaphong has ordered officials to ramp up their efforts to ensure all migrant workers returning from Myanmar are checked for COVID-19 following a Thai woman returning from Myanmar testing positive for the virus in Chiang Mai, sparking fears of an outbreak there, and three Thai women testing positive for the virus in Chiang Rai.

By The Phuket News

Tuesday 1 December 2020, 11:13AM

Phuket Vice Governor Phichet Panaphong issued the order to target arrivals from Myanmar yesterday (Nov 20). Photo: PR Phuket

Phuket Vice Governor Phichet Panaphong issued the order to target arrivals from Myanmar yesterday (Nov 20). Photo: PR Phuket

Concerns have been specifically raised over how three Thai* women in Chiang Rai had managed to re-enter the country without being tested.

V/Gov Phichet told the meeting of the Phuket Provincial Communicable Disease Committee at Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday (Nov 30) that the central government had ordered all border provinces to set up teams to screen arrivals.

“Phuket has about 59,000 migrant workers, especially Myanmar nationals, which comprise about 80% of all the migrant workers in the province,” he said.

“Therefore all Myanmar workers must be scanned and quarantined at the border province checkpoint before coming to Phuket,” V/Gov Phichet said.

“I want local officials to intensively keep eyes on Myanmar workers in Phuket and search for illegal workers,” he added.

“Officers at the Phuket Check Point in Tha Chatchai, where all road traffic enters the province, must increase the intensiveness of their checks at the checkpoint in order to protect the island from illegal migrant workers who have not been quarantined,” V/Gov Pichet said.

“Officers from the Phuket Public Health Office must coordinate with other relevant officers to check workers in entertainment venues and other workplaces,” he added.

“If anyone sees workers acting suspiciously, please inform local police or immigration officers so they can investigate,”  V/Gov Phichet said. 

“Local people also can report [suspicious migrant workers] via the Damrongtham Centre [Ombudsman’s Office] 24-hour hotline 1567,” he added.

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The order to start heavily screening migrant workers arriving on the island comes nearly three months after similar measures were ordered in Phang Nga, north of Phuket, through which all arrivals to Phuket must pass through in order to reach the island.

Phang Nga Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada on Sept 4 ordered a required 14-day home quarantine for those arriving in, or returning to, the southern province from areas considered COVID-19 outbreak zones, including Myanmar and other provinces in Thailand.

The stay-at-home requirement could be waived if people could show proof of having quarantined at a state or local quarantine facility before arriving in the province.

Mr Chamroen, who has previously served as Governor of Phuket, said many people had taken health safety measures for granted and in doing so reduced public awareness about the still-present threat of COVID-19 infections.

Apart from the home quarantine, people in Phang Nga must wear a face mask at all times in public places, never engage in any activity that may heighten the risk of spreading the virus and strictly follow COVID-19 prevention regulations when attending mass gatherings.

Punishments would be meted out against anyone who violates the health measures, Gov Chamroen said.

Governor Chamroen also ordered officials in all districts in the province to be on alert for any illegal migrant workers being smuggled into their areas. The employers involved and leading officials in the areas where any illegal migrant workers, who in Phang Nga are mostly from Myanmar, are found would be held responsible, he said.

Additional reporting by Eakkapop Thongtub

* Correction: Not Myanmar women as initially reported. The error is regretted.

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Kurt | 03 December 2020 - 10:34:07

D, I not talk about unpenetrateble border terrain. The 'natural routes' to plug are the well known foot paths, well known by returning people ( most women?) and of course the Government border patrol units.

DeKaaskopp | 02 December 2020 - 21:48:09

" Just plug the natural routes"   Kurt, seems like you don't know the meaning of "natural border crossings". And obviously you don't have a clue about the terrain along the border. Impossible to " plug" it as you call it.

Jor12 | 02 December 2020 - 15:53:26

k...this is what you wrote: "violating Thai labor Laws, hiring illegal/under paying Myanmar workers." You really need to better inform yourself of Thailand's labour and immigration laws.

Pascale | 02 December 2020 - 15:09:10

worker from Myanmar. But you are excused for your ignorance. Sitting home and watching TV only can't bring you enough knowledge .

Pascale | 02 December 2020 - 14:59:46

Kurt, since when does a "shaved head" automatically labels you to be a  soldier ? And even if there are soldiers wearing yellow shirts,did anyone of them had a sign on the shirt that he belongs to the border patrol ? And to think that Thai's employing  illegal worker from Myanmar are never punished for doing so is as stupid as to think that foreigners would never employ illegal worke...

Kurt | 02 December 2020 - 11:26:11

Pascale, there is no need to control the complete 2000 km borderline.  Just plug the natural routes. But the border patrol people who usually do that are now in Bangkok, wearing yellow shirt, functioning in a 'side job'. Watch it on tv. See their shaven heads!

Kurt | 02 December 2020 - 09:45:20

@Pascale. What make you say that I think only Thai employ Myanmar workers? I didn't.  I was questioning why Thai employers can employ people illegally, and not arrested same way as the illegal workers they employ.  A foreign employer  mostly can't effort to hire illegal. He risks his firm, even his visa, waiting deportation.

LALALA | 01 December 2020 - 17:50:32

Soso...the bad Myanmar migrant workers..looks like Mr. PP failed to acknowledge that the recent cases in the north are caused by his fellow country-wo-men who illegally crossed the boarder to avoid quarantine and NOT by any migrant workers

Pascale | 01 December 2020 - 15:14:50

Kurt, what makes you think that only Thai's employ worker from Myanmar ? And yes Kurt, it is easy to avoid border check points. How to control  over 2000 km of borderline ? 

Jor12 | 01 December 2020 - 14:03:04

k...lets be realistic. 2 people can effectively infect thousands...even though you state there are no infections in Phuket so according to you there is no need for any restrictions.  Investigating 80,000 migrant workers is a bit silly.   You need to be more realistic in your demands for Government action.  

Kurt | 01 December 2020 - 14:01:24

So far I never red that any Thai employer, violating Thai labor Laws, hiring illegal/under paying Myanmar workers, has been arrested, and by a Thai Court convicted. Why is that, in the land of laws for everything? Is that due to corruption?  Just a question.

Kurt | 01 December 2020 - 12:27:34

Let's be realistic. It are not just 2 women entering illegal. There are many more. Avoiding Thai border check points seems to be easy. Can V/Gov give a example of how a Myanmar working worker can behave suspiciously? They all are hired by Thai employers! So, investigate suspicious Thai employers first. No foreign workers witch hunting.

goldwing | 01 December 2020 - 12:12:22

Get out of your office and see how many people are ignoring the covid guidelines, no face masks, social distancing does not exist


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