Migrant workers’ deadline extended

Doctors too busy to test them in the wake of third wave

Vendors and migrant workers in Klong Toey market line up for blood tests on June 3 to check for Covid-19 antibodies in an effort to control virus transmission in the area before the reopening of the market on June 4 (Photo: Pornprom Satrabhaya)

The cabinet has extended the Covid-19 testing period for migrant workers from three countries by 90 days to Sept 13 as medical workers are overwhelmed and have no time to test them.

Deputy government spokeswoman Ratchada Dhanadirek said on Tuesday that the cabinet had agreed to extend the June 16 deadline so they can apply for health insurance and work permits.

The cabinet also allowed 53,800 migrant workers who registered for unemployment to fill personal details in the Tor Ror 38/1 form and apply for pink cards, or temporary work permits, by March 31 next year, also from the original deadline of June 16.

The extension would allow them to stay and work legally in the country without increasing the burden of medical personnel, said the spokeswoman.

On Dec 23 last year, the cabinet allowed migrant workers from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar to stay and work legally in the country as a special case during the Covid-19 outbreak.

To do so, they are required to report to immigration officials for the collection of biometric data and to apply for health insurance and work permits by June 16.

Over the past months, about 654,000 migrant workers registered and entered the process. Of them, 601,000 have registered to look for jobs, said the deputy spokeswoman.

After screening, about 496,000 of them were qualified to seek work permits.

As of May 31, 98% of them, or 485,000, already had their biometric data collected by the Immigration Bureau but only 70% of them had been tested for Covid-19 at the Public Health Ministry.

Only 50% of them, or 239,000, completed all steps and obtained work permits from the Labour Ministry.

As the country was hit by the new wave of the Covid-19, medical workers and hospitals could not finish Covid-19 testing of migrant workers within the June 16 deadline.

The delay would make them illegal workers and affect the employers. As a result, the Covid-19 testing period has been extended to Sept 13, said the deputy spokeswoman.