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Migrant workers, Cambodians included, at risk of losing legal status after hospitals refuse them health checks due to COVID-19

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A worker wipes clean glass windows at a four-storey terminal at Suvarnabhumi airport.  Somchai Poomlard

Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in the country are at risk of losing their legal status after hospitals reportedly refused to give them health checks due to Covid-19, according to a non-profit organisation.

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Only those from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar were allowed to overstay their visas but they are required to register at the provincial employment office where they worked to obtain an employment permit

Adisorn Kerdmongkol, a representative of the Migrant Working Group, said hospitals suspended conducting health checks on migrants indefinitely in the middle of December due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Adisorn said there are three groups of migrant workers who needed a health certificate to renew their work permit. Some of them won’t be able to renew their permit in time.

The first group consists of about 240,000 people who must renew their visas by Jan 31.

The second group consists of over a million migrant workers whose visas must also be renewed. This group’s work permits had allowed them to work in the country for two years.

The third group, consisting of 300,000-400,000 migrants, entered the country to work under a government MoU, and they are required to return to their country to renew official travel and work documents.

Mr Adisorn said the migrant workers feared they would not be able to obtain valid visas and work permits in time.

There has been no clear instruction from the government yet as to how it will help the migrants, he added.

Some migrant workers had already lost their legal status to work in Thailand since they had been laid off and were unable to find a new job within 30 days as the law required, Mr Adirorn said.

He suggested that the government allow the migrant workers to stay in Thailand to work for another year, or until 2022, and ask their country of origin to extend their passport validity.

The cabinet on Aug 4 agreed to allow migrant workers whose work permits expire during the pandemic to continue to work in Thailand temporarily.

Source: Bangkok Post

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