NGO: Over 9K workers get Covid in Thailand

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Migrant workers return home after undergoing quarantine in Banteay Meanchey on January 10. BANTEAY MEANCHEY ADMINISTRATION

A senior Cambodian official said the exact number of Cambodian workers in Thailand infected with Covid-19 was uncertain, but an NGO monitor in Thailand claimed there could be as many as 9,000 workers who have contracted the disease.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Koy Kuong told The Post on July 22 that the ministry did not have official numbers for Cambodian workers infected with Covid-19 in Thailand, which is being hit hard by the disease.

He said the government and the foreign ministry instructed the Cambodian Embassy and Consulate General in Thailand to coordinate with Thai authorities, especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health, Thai Ministry of Labour and the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration for intervention.

The embassy should focus on vaccinations and treatment. If migrant workers are in a serious condition, the embassy and consulate should work together to search for ambulances and beds to provide treatment for affected workers.

Kuong said the embassy will distribute food to workers facing the most hardship during Thailand’s lockdown.

“The Cambodian government has continued to disseminate health measures put forward by the ministries and institutions of both governments to prevent Covid-19.

The government also provides counselling, encouragement and asked Cambodian workers to participate in implementing these measures,” Kuong said.

The government is also promoting healthcare education during the Covid-19 pandemic so Cambodians are more vigilant and take care of their health.

Kuong said the embassy and consulate have to provide regular services such as resolving labour disputes, assist workers who have had workplace accidents, assist in finding new jobs for the unemployed, and facilitate the provision of required documents.

Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesperson Heng Sour told The Post on July 22 that his ministry had yet to receive information, either from Cambodia officials or the Thai side, on how many Cambodian workers have contracted the disease.

He said Thailand may not provided any data because of Thailand’s privacy law.

“What is clear is the Royal Government of Thailand has a policy to treat all Covid-19 positive people free of charge regardless of race, colour and status, as is the case in Cambodia,” he said.

Loeung Sophon, an officer at the Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (Central), told The Post on July 22 that according to an announcement by the Thai Ministry of Health concerning numbers of infected people in the country, about 9,000 Cambodian workers had contracted Covid-19.

“These are the number of Cambodians infected with Covid-19 in Thailand, especially Cambodian workers. The number is increasing every day to more than 10,000, while the Thai government has announced a ban on traffic in 10 provinces to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” Sophon said.

He said 10 construction sites in Bangkok and surrounding provinces had been closed by the Thai government, which has caused difficulties for Cambodian workers who worked there, especially people who lived and worked illegally.

He said during the lockdown, the Thai government announced some financial support to migrant workers along with some food when their workplace was closed. But this assistance is applied to legal migrant workers only.

Sophon urged the Cambodian government to discuss with the Thai government on providing assistance for Cambodian workers who are facing problems.

In a separate case, a Banteay Meanchey provincial administration report on July 20 said that since February 20, a total of 45,967 migrant workers had returned from Thailand via the province and had quarantined at 15 centres in the province.

The provincial administration found 8,742 of the migrant workers were positive for Covid-19. Of the total, 6,048 patients have recovered, while the other 2,628 are still under treatment at various health centres in the province.

The province also registered 66 deaths from Covid-19. Among the dead were two Thais and three Indonesians.