Border officers prioritised for vaccine

Border officers prioritised for vaccine

Karen refugees carrying belongings are seen at Salween riverbank in Mae Hong Son on Thursday. (Reuters photo)
Karen refugees carrying belongings are seen at Salween riverbank in Mae Hong Son on Thursday. (Reuters photo)

The Public Health Ministry is to allocate Covid-19 vaccine doses to frontline border security officers working to stem the flow into Thailand of people fleeing Myanmar.

Department of Disease Control (DDC) director-general Opas Karnkawinpong said the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration had agreed to dispatch vaccines to police and military officers guarding northern border areas where an influx of people from Myanmar had been reported.

Those officers routinely come into close contact with migrants and those fleeing the unrest in Myanmar.

The army has been asked to inform the ministry how many soldiers are involved so an appropriate amount of vaccines could be distributed to them, said the DDC.

Dr Opas added that Dr Kiattiphum Wongrajit, the permanent secretary for public health, had also ordered border hospitals in 10 provinces to prepare for an influx of Myanmar people seeking refuge in Thailand.

The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation is expected to make available 800,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine, sufficient for officers and other at-risk groups of people along the border.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said yesterday he had discussed with the issue of people fleeing Myanmar with the Third Army Region commander.

Mr Anutin said the commander would deploy soldiers to keep those seeking refuge from entering Thailand but they would be provided shelter along the border areas.

Several thousand Karen villagers crossed the Salween River from Myanmar into Thailand's Mae Hong Son province on Sunday, fearing a repeat of Saturday's aerial attack on their homes by Myanmar's military.

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