Saturday, February 27, 2021

Impossible to keep out Myanmar illegal border-crossers, says Thai army

90% of Covid-19 cases in the Samut Sakhon outbreak are said to be Myanmar migrant workers living in that area.

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The latest infection cluster in Thailand at a shrimp market in Samut Sakhon is linked to migrant labourers, the country’s public health ministry has confirmed.

Dr Vichan Pawun, director of the Institute for Urban Disease Control, said that the institute’s epidemiological analysis has found that migrant workers at the central shrimp market in Muang district are almost certainly the cause of the latest infections.

He said the latest Covid-19 tests have found 90% of infections were Myanmar migrant workers living in that area in crowded rooms with minimal sanitary standards.

Following calls to be more vigilant at Thailand’s borders, the army admitted on Monday that it is impossible to completely seal them off from illegal migrants, reports the Bangkok Post.

Deputy army chief-of-staff Lt Gen Santipong Thammapiya said illegal migrants are still sneaking into Thailand from Myanmar, especially at highly porous locations in Tak, Chiang Rai and Kanchanaburi. He claimed nearly 300 Myanmar nationals have been caught and sent back over the last few days.

“Illegal migrant labourers are still crossing the border using natural channels, even though we have deployed a legion of soldiers to guard the demarcation. Our border is 5,526km long,” the general said.

“The army will add even more resources, including drones, mobile patrol units and razor-wire fences to secure high-risk areas.”

He said 200 soldiers have been sent to Samut Sakhon, the scene of the latest Covid-19 infection cluster, to boost the authorities’ screening and checkpoint capacity.

The number of confirmed Covid-19 patients from the Samut Sakhon cluster reached 821 on Monday night. 788 were migrant workers and the other 33 were Thais.

The public health ministry is administering Covid-19 tests to Myanmar migrant workers across the country.

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