Every 'phi noi' from S Korea to be isolated

Every 'phi noi' from S Korea to be isolated

The government has decided to isolate all illegal Thai workers returning from South Korea, especially those from the North Gyoengsang province and Daegu city, where the number of Covid-19 cases is high.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the returnees will first be screened in South Korea and those with a fever will not be allowed to board the flight to Thailand.

Upon arrival, returnees from the two South Korean virus hotspots will be immediately quarantined for 14 days at a yet to be decided location.

Workers from other areas of South Korea who do not have a fever will be quarantined for 14 days in sites designated by governors in their home province, the PM said.

Gen Prayut was speaking after attending a special meeting with representatives of concerned government agencies tasked with handling the returning droves of the so-called phi-noi (little ghosts).

Those who develop a fever will be taken to designated hospitals for immediate treatment, the premier added.

Gen Prayut also ordered the setting up of a Covid-19 information centre tasked with providing the public with accurate information, accepting public complaints and relaying them to concerned agencies among others.

Dr Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai, director-general of the Disease Control Department, said workers returning from South Korea will undergo the same screening method as the one applied to returnees from China, because South Korea has the highest number of Covid-19 cases outside the mainland.

Illegal workers who want to take advantage of the South Korean government's dispensation for them to depart without being charged or blacklisted need not return at the same time, Dr Suwannachai said, adding that their return can be arranged by the Foreign Ministry.

He also said health officials were effectively following up on those who have already returned from South Korea.

Meanwhile, Lt Gen Thanya Kiatisarn, commander of the 2nd Army Region, said the government has not yet said if it wants to use military hospitals in the Northeast to quarantine the returnees. Most Thai workers live in the Isan region.

He said the 10 military hospitals in the region were ready and if the space they provide is not enough, other military camps will be offered to serve as quarantine sites, Lt Gen Thanya said.

Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said he has instructed all provincial governors to prepare areas to quarantine Thai workers from South Korea, with provincial health authorities and volunteers monitoring them closely.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the process of illegal Thai migrant workers seeking permission from South Korean immigration authorities to return home will take 14 days and another 14-day self-quarantine will then be required from them before they are allowed to board a flight to Thailand.

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