Migrant workers get special Covid-19 hotline

Migrant workers get special Covid-19 hotline

The Department of Disease Control has launched a Covid-19 Migrant Hotline to support millions of foreign workers from neighbouring countries residing in the kingdom.

The special hotline, provided by the Public Health Ministry, is meant to manage the risk of infection among the 2.7 million foreign labourers working in Thailand.

Migrant workers are regarded as an at-risk group by the ministry after the experience of Singapore, where the number of new infections spiked among foreign labourers living in packed dorms.

The government yesterday reported six new cases, bringing the national tally to 2,960. Last Saturday it reported 53 new cases -- 42 of them migrant workers in Songkhla province.

DDC chief Suwannachai Watanayingcharoenchai said Thailand is still at risk due to potential imported virus cases, adding the government has implemented travel rules and restrictions for people who want to enter the kingdom.

Dr Suwannachai said many workers from neighbouring countries travelled to Thailand to seek jobs, so they will need to obtain information on how to avoid contracting Covid-19.

"We hope that the hotline will be a channel for the access to the right [disease prevention] information for them," he said.

"Covid-19 among 42 alien workers has made us realise we need to pay more attention to this group," Dr Suwannachai added.

Foreign workers from Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam can call 1422 to reach the hotline.

The hotline was set up in conjunction with NGOs in Thailand and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Daniel Kertesz, the WHO representative in Thailand, voiced his appreciation for the country's initiative, saying migrant workers are a group that should not be left behind.

"The ministry has done a good job to stabilise cases with effective measures. But some [measures] like social distancing are hardly practical among [migrant workers]," Dr Kertesz said. "The hotline can help provide proper advice."

The DDC on March 16 launched a general foreigner hotline. It said 40 calls are made on average each day with questions related to disease symptoms, medical treatment and visa information. It said calls from citizens of neighbouring countries are increasing at the moment.

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