Thailand distributing masks for migrants to prevent virus

Effective public health requires reaching the most vulnerable. Thai public health officials are working with the Red Cross and Red Crescent to distribute hundreds of thousands of cloth masks to migrants and health volunteers to prevent the Covid-19 virus from taking hold in their communities.

“Nearly a million masks are being provided to migrant workers, village health volunteers and other frontline workers as part of a new initiative to protect people at risk from COVID-19 in Thailand,” the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) said last week.

Migrants are a group that is often unreached by government services, including public health services, and so they could potentially become a reservoir for infections. Recently, Singapore saw a resurgence of Covid-19 because the city-state had not monitored the pandemic situation among its migrant worker communities.

Thailand is a magnet for migrant workers from neighboring countries because of its higher wages and living standards. An estimated 2 million migrants are living in Thailand.

Although Thailand has not had any locally transmitted Covid-19 infections in more than a month, preventing a second wave of the pandemic requires monitoring and protecting all communities.

“Migrants, especially those who are undocumented, face daily challenges which are further exacerbated by the health and socio-economic impacts of this pandemic. Red Cross is supporting migrant workers, who are some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, and it’s vital that everyone can be safe from COVID-19,” said Christopher Rassi, Head of the IFRC Delegation in Bangkok.

The IFRC said it would also provide masks and protective equipment to village health volunteers. Researchers and public health officials have credited the nationwide network of volunteers as an essential factor in Thailand’s success in turning the tide on the pandemic.

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