11 July 2024

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said today that Thailand has no law that can force Thais, working illegally in South Korea, into quarantine upon their return. There has been widespread concern expressed on social media about the returnees representing a risk of a widespread outbreak of COVID-19 in Thailand.

He said that it is necessary, however, for authorities to tell the returning workers to confine themselves at home for at least 14 days.

According to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, more than 5,000 Thai workers, who have overstayed their visas in South Korea, have registered to return home, after the South Korean government announced that it will not take legal action against them if they leave South Korea voluntarily by June 30th, 2020.

 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Therdkiart Atthakorn said that, unlike China, the South Korean government has not quarantined any town or imposed travel restrictions to areas of widespread COVID-19 infection.

Illegal Thai workers can contact immigration offices in their localities in South Korea, with their passports and air tickets. The process will take between 5-15 days, after which they can expect to return home, said Mr. Therdkiart, adding that anyone infected with coronavirus is entitled to standard treatment in South Korea, with the government there shouldering all the medical costs.

 

According to the Thai embassy, there are 136 Thais in the city of Daegu who have registered to return home and, according to standard medical protocols, they will be screened and quarantined for 14 days of observation before they are allowed to return to Thailand.

A city of 2.4 million people, Daegu is the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak in South Korea but officials have not restricted the movement of people. It is a less rigid approach to keeping the health threat at bay, by aggressively warning residents to take precautions while staying open for business.  This is in stark contrast to the strict lockdown in Wuhan, the centre of the virus outbreak in China.

In Thailand, many Tweets and Hashtags have expressed disagreement with the return home of Thais working illegally in South Korea, fearing that some of them may not comply with the self-quarantine regime, with many pointing out that the South Korean government has not imposed travel restrictions in towns where the disease is widespread.