Suchart defends random test plan

Suchart defends random test plan

Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin yesterday defended the ministry's decision to shift from conducting a blanket Covid-19 test on migrant workers at construction worker camps to randomly testing them, as the problem of hospital bed shortages continues.

The decision to reduce Covid-19 tests among migrant workers has angered many non-government organisations, as they believe the ministry is discriminating against migrant workers on the grounds of race.

They also urged the government to treat them equally to their Thai counterparts, said a sour ce.

Mr Suchart responded to their criticism yesterday, saying the ministry scaled back its Covid-19 testing programme for migrant workers because of a shortage of hospital beds to take those infected.

He said the ministry is now working to set up more field hospitals in several areas to take more sick workers.

He insisted the ministry wants as many migrant workers tested for Covid-19 as possible, especially in high-risk places such as construction sites, for the sake of containing the outbreak.

Mr Suchart said he was fully aware of the need to separate those who may have become infected from non-infected people.

But with the estimated 12,000 beds at state-run hospitals serving the social security system almost full, he said one way to get enough beds for newly infected workers was to build more field hospitals, which the ministry was currently doing.

"The mass Covid-19 testing programme is not a burden to us, but the problem is the shortage of hospital beds," he said.

"In the meantime, the ministry is working with hospitals in several provinces to increase their capacity to receive more infected patients."

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