The government may temporarily convert border patrol police camps into COVID-19 quarantine centres, to accommodate migrant workers who have been permitted to come work in Thailand as part of a labour programme aimed at easing labour shortages.
Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin said on Thursday the ministry was seeking cooperation from the Border Patrol Police in a plan that is believed would help lower the costs of COVID-19 quarantining for the employers of these migrant workers, while ensuring high quarantine standards.
Mr Chomklin was speaking during a visit to an immigration checkpoint in Aranyaprathet district of Sa Kaeo on Thursday, where he inspected COVID-19 screening measures for migrant workers at the border post.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had expressed concerns over the impact the COVID-19 outbreak in neighbouring countries would have on migrant workers coming into Thailand through border checkpoints, said Mr Chomklin.
The ministry plans to hold discussions with employers in the border provinces who now need more migrant workers to work for them, especially in the agricultural sector, said the minister.
The ministry is also considering using a COVID-19 quarantine programme for migrant workers being piloted in Chanthaburi as a model for other border provinces, he said.
In this project, some longan fruit plantation owners are providing COVID-19 quarantine facilities for migrants they are hiring, he said.
In terms of the prevention of illegal entry by migrant workers, the ministry has instructed its labour offices in the border provinces to fully support the work by security authorities in stemming the flow of illegal immigrants coming from neighbouring countries, he said.
In Ranong, Capt Nat Charatsakun, head of Ranong’s port security centre, raised concerns over the risk of COVID-19 spreading via ports in the province, which receive close to a hundred cargo vessels daily. Hundreds of Myanmar workers come in these ships every day, Capt Charatsakun said.
The centre is therefore implementing extremely strict measures to prevent physical contact between Myanmar crewmen on these ships and Thais working at the ports, he said.
In Narathiwat, 11 Vietnamese nationals were caught fishing illegally in Thai waters on Wednesday, the Marine Police said on Thursday.