Migrant workers’ unemployment may hinder disease control

As the Thai economy is heavily impacted by government attempts to control the COVID-19 outbreak, experts believe that the situation for migrant workers may contribute to the epidemic. Proper policies and employment support are needed to set things right.

It has been 2 weeks since Rachen Maung Maung, an ethnic Rohingya roti vendor (Indian snack) in Bangkok changed his way of doing business as a result of the Thai authorities’ attempts to control COVID-19 outbreak.

Customers had increasingly deserted the area where he used set up his stall at night as most offices ordered employees to work from home and many businesses shut down.

“What should I do? They’ve closed everything; the government has closed down, the factories, big ones have no people. If there are people, they have no money.” said Rachen, who instead is selling roti around his community during the day.

Migrant workers are facing a dire situation as the Thai government’s attempts to enforce ‘social distancing’ deal a huge blow to economic activity countrywide. The service sector was the first hit by state lock-down orders, and this has now expanded to the production sector as demand dwindles.

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Yiamyut Sutthichaya