Samut Sakhon, Thailand-
Thai Government officials have told the Thai media that they have finished building a field hospital for migrant workers in Samut Sakhon and that, according to their statement, the workers are being provided free medical care, food and water and officials are working with their employers to compensate them for their time out of work.
These statements come as some human rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch of Southeast Asia, expressed concern about the situation around migrant dorms at the Central Shrimp Market in Samut Sakhon, which is the epicenter of a recent large cluster of over 1,000 Covid-19 infections in Thailand. The majority of the workers at the market, about 90% according to the Thai Public Health Ministry, are Thai and thousands live in about seven dormitories near the market. The market has been sealed off into a “hard quarantine” and surrounded by guards, police and soldiers as well as barbed wire fences, leading concern from some of the situation for migrants inside.
The Public Health Ministry has also said over 90% of the cases of Covid-19 from the migrant workers are asymptomatic and the remainder had only mild symptoms. However, much of the concern from human rights groups comes from seemingly keeping infected and non infected in the same lockdown area. Migrant workers are not permitted to leave at this time. However, Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin of the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration, or CCSA, has stressed that the migrant workers drive a major portion of the economy in Thailand and they must be treated as “brothers and sisters” of the Thai people.
His statements followed an uptick in racist and negative posts on Thai social media regarding Burmese migrants and cautions from academics and human rights groups to not blame foreign migrant workers but focus on the policies and procedures that led to the outbreak vs. an overall group. Hundreds of local Thai residents had opposed the setup of the field hospital, claiming that it would raise the chance of infections in their local communities.
According to the Bamrasnaduras Institute alongside the Department of Disease Control (DDC) the field hospital is fully ready to treat and house those with minor conditions. Any migrants with more serious conditions will be sent to a larger facility. The hospital has roughly thirty beds although capacity will be expanded to one hundred shortly, added the DDC. The Samut Sakhon Provincial Administrative Organization supplied the field hospital with various needed items such as biohazard waste containers and a mobile toilet truck.