More than 6,000 Lao migrant workers held in camps in quarantine after returning from Thailand have now gone home, with smaller numbers still crossing the border each day and unknown numbers still stranded in Thailand, Lao sources said this week.
The 6,000 recently clearing quarantine were the latest batch of some 20,000 who have crossed into Savannakhet province out of a total of 27,000 who have returned from Thailand and gone through quarantine since April.
Around 100, most of them recent arrivals, are now left in the Savannakhet camps observing a 14-day quarantine, an official from the province told RFA’s Lao Service, adding that the 6,000 who have left the camps will continue to be monitored at home to ensure they are in good health.
“We have a system to follow up with them in their home villages,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Around two or three people are still coming in every day, though, and we are taking some in from Champassak province as well,” the official said.
Over 3,000 Lao workers returning from Thailand to Champassak have meanwhile also cleared quarantine and been sent home, subject to continued monitoring in their villages, an official in the province told RFA.
“They have all gone home now,” the official said.
“We still have three camps open for those still coming in from Thailand,” he said. “The gates are officially closed, but the border guards are allowing them to come in if they go straight into quarantine.”
“The camps that are open now are in the Pakse and Pathom Phone districts, with the rest all closed. We will use hospitals and guest houses for new arrivals because our schools are now open again,” the official added.
In Kham Mouane province, more than 7,000 Lao workers have also returned from Thailand, an official in the province told RFA, adding, “Almost all have already returned home, with only a few left behind [in quarantine].”
More than 2,000 migrant workers have also returned to Salavan province, with almost all now allowed to go home again, according to authorities in the province.
“No one is left in the camps,” one official said. “And if the border gates are opened again, we will house them in guest houses and temples. If workers coming back have small shelters in their rice fields, they can also go into quarantine over there,” he added.
All Lao provinces are now prepared to welcome workers coming back from foreign countries, with around 83 camps open nationwide, and village authorities are prepared to care for and monitor the health of those who have returned, Lao sources said.
Written and translated by Sidney Khotpanya for RFA’s Lao Service. Written in English by Richard Finney.