The Government of Burma received hundreds of returnees this Wednesday (July 8) from the Thai border town of Mae Sai.
Chan Myae Saw, who is the general administration development officer (GAD) for Tachilek Township, told SHAN he didn’t have exact numbers but estimates more than 180 returned to Burma and that eight of them were released from a Thai prison.
Tachilek border officials began processing returnees in the early afternoon, he says.
Anyone whose local was sent to a government quarantine facility in the town of Tachilek, and the rest were sent to quarantine facilities in their home townships or states. All former prisoners are from Tachilek.
Both Burma and Thailand introduced lockdowns shortly after the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced the COVID-19 pandemic in early March.
There were an estimated 2 to 3 million migrant workers from Burma in Thailand before the pandemic started. Most of the workers lost their jobs after the lockdown forced many Thai businesses to close. Not all were able to return home before the border closed.
According to Dr Myo Tun, Shan State’s minister for social welfare, there were 1,966 workers who returned to Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State, between May 27 and July 6 via Myawaddy, located in Karen State.
He says 1,663 of the returnees were tested for COVID-19. Out of this, 1,497 tested negative and 166 are still awaiting their results. Dr Myo Tun says they still need to test 3,030 workers.
Although Burma is still under partial lockdown, Thailand has allowed most of its businesses to reopen. The borders of both countries remain closed, except to allow government-facilitated group returns of migrant workers to Burma.
Since the pandemic began, there have been ten confirmed COVID-19 infections in Shan State, with only one patient still receiving treatment in hospital.
The Ministry of Health and Sports reported on July 8 there were 316 confirmed cases in Burma, while 6 died and 245 recovered.