Several hundred migrant workers returned from the Thai border town of Mae Sai this week, with many expected to return home again soon, said the General Administration Development (GAD) officer for Tachilek Township, located in Burma’s eastern Shan State.
GAD officer Chan Myae Saw told SHAN of 334 who returned, 64 from Tachilek Township will be quarantined in the border town of Tachilek. The remainder will be sent directly to their townships. “More migrant workers will return,” he said.
Many migrant workers lost their jobs after the Thai government imposed a lockdown to curb the coronavirus outbreak, causing most factories, airlines and bus companies to cease operations. Both the Thai and Burmese governments closed the border, trapping workers in the kingdom. In recent months, Thailand has eased its lockdown.
Chan Myae Saw said through special arrangements administered by the government, about 4,000 migrant workers returned to Burma from March to August 4 via the Mae Sai – Tachilek Friendship Bridge.
According to the Shan State government, 2,728 returned to Shan State from Thailand from May 27 to August 4 by crossing the Myawaddy – Mae Sot Friendship Bridge.
Dr Myo Tun, minister of social affairs for Shan State, told SHAN they still need to test 531 returnees, who crossed the Friendship Bridge to Myawaddy.
The Burmese and Thai governments closed the border on March 23. Thousands of workers who missed the deadline congregated in Thai border towns of Mae Sot and Mae Sai. Both border crossings were reopened to those with Burmese passports until 5 p.m. on March 25. The same day, a migrant worker returning from Bangkok was the first COVID-19 case confirmed in the town of Tachilek.