The Thai Ministry of Labor today, July 14th, explained their reasons for the alleged cancellation of Covid-19 tests for foreign migrant groups, following backlash flooding Thai social media since early this morning.
This followed the Foreign Workers Administration of the Department of Employment, under the Ministry of Labor, yesterday, July 13th, allegedly canceling health screening and Covid-19 tests for all foreign migrant workers in the highest and strictly controlled areas, claiming that hospitals in the areas could no longer facilitate infected patients.
The order, which was leaked to the public yesterday evening by an anonymous source, was sent to the Bangkok Employment Office Area 1-10 on July 5th, stating that the Minister of Labor has the policy to cancel the project as most hospitals are currently facing problems such as lack of medical personnel, patient beds, ventilators, and medical equipment to support a limited number of severely ill patients or emergency patients and could no longer accommodate newly detected patients.
The leak of the document has prompted a storm of public criticism as the order had allegedly significantly neglected human rights principles and was considered to be inappropriate and discriminatory against foreign workers.
As of today, Labor Minister Suchart Chomklin claimed that the order would be put into action if only approved by the Bangkok Disease Control Committee, not the Ministry itself, and claimed it was just a possible proposal, not an order. He did not clarify who exactly made the proposal.
He further stated that a proactive testing approach must be carried out under the authorities of the provincial disease control committee. However, the current problem was the lack of hospital beds in Bangkok and other dark red zone provinces, compounded with policies that require, for the most part, anyone that tests positive to be placed under medical supervision or care.
“It is true that hospitals in dark red zone areas are currently very limited and are unavailable to facilitate more infections. They, therefore, had to limit the Covid-19 tests as they had no spare beds for newly infected people.” Suchart stated.
“However, General Prawit Wongsuwan, as a supervisor of the Ministry of Labor, had the idea of using different venues, like skill development centers, located in different areas as field hospitals to facilitate new infections as well.” Suchart concluded.
It is unclear if the “proposal” will now be shelved, following intense public criticism.
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