Governor Denies Migrant Workers Escaped From Apartment Building

Samut Sakhon Governor
Samut Sakhon Governor

Yesterday, the Samut Sakhon governor dismissed rumours that migrant workers had escaped from an apartment building behind the shrimp market at the centre of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The reports, which went viral on social media yesterday, were accompanied by a picture of a broken concrete wall and a caption saying it had been broken by migrant workers who had just fled the building.

Veerasak Vijitsaengsri insisted that the wall in the picture had been broken long ago and that none of the migrants in quarantine had escaped as the building was under strict 24/7 surveillance by both police and soldiers.

Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul also denied the rumours, saying no one had escaped from the building.

National police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk, meanwhile, pointed to the need to improve the quarantined migrants’ understanding of what the Thai authorities were doing.

About 6,000 migrants were being kept together, he said, and chaos could ensue unless the authorities improved their communications so the detainees fully understood the situation.

Some had attempted to escape on Monday, he admitted, adding that using force alone wouldn’t be enough to make them cooperate with authorities but clear communication as to what was being done and why would help curb their frustration and prevent any attempts to stir unrest.

Pol Gen Jangyodsuk also said investigators from Bangkok had been deployed in the border areas to probe reports that a number of influential people and local state officials were to blame for causing the new virus outbreak as they had colluded with gangs to smuggle migrant workers into Thailand.

In Narathiwat, 32 Lao men were detained in the early hours of yesterday while attempting to enter Thailand from neighbouring Malaysia, said a source.

Initial inquiries found they were fishing crew from Malaysia’s southern state of Johor.