Undocumented Thai workers returning from South Korea, aka "Little Ghosts," check in for a 14-day virus quarantine at a Navy facility in Chonburi province.

BANGKOK — The government on Monday said they would reward those with information leading to the whereabouts of Thai migrant workers who allegedly fled a quarantine.

Transport minister Saksayam Chidchob said during a visit to Suvarnabhumi Airport that he ordered airport and immigration officials to step up security measures at the airport after 80 Thai undocumented workers returning from South Korea evaded a checkpoint there on Saturday.

He also asked the Ministry of Health to put up posters, complete with portraits of those fleeing the quarantine measures, to help members of the public to be vigilant of the workers.

“I asked the Health Ministry to declare this group of people as persons under special surveillance,” Saksayam said. “We will put up photos of these individuals so that the public can notify authorities. They will be awarded 10,000 baht per each capture.”

The minister said the measure is not enforced by any court. Rather, it was for the sake of public order.

“This is not an arrest warrant, but we just want to let the public know that these people are needed to be monitored,” Saksayam said. “It should bring a sense of relief to the public. Over the past few days, these people raised concerns after they posted photos of themselves in public spaces, rather than staying in a quarantine.”

Deputy health minister Satit Pitutecha said 80 workers got away Saturday afternoon while they were waiting to be transported to a quarantine facility. A deadline of March 10 was given to those still on the run to turn themselves in, otherwise they will face legal actions, he said.

Last week, the government had imposed 14-day mandatory quarantine for Thai undocumented overseas workers, known in internet slang as “Little Ghosts,” returning from Daegu city and North Gyeongsang province – where the Covid-19 outbreak is hitting the hardest in South Korea.

The government initially said the policy would also cover every Thai and foreigner travelling from all parts of South Korea, China, Macau, Hong Kong, Italy, and Iran. But officials later backtracked their remarks, after causing much confusion.

Returns of the “Little Ghosts” were met with widespread public panic. Several shopping malls and restaurants closed and disinfected their facilities in recent days after some of the workers visited the establishments.

As of Monday afternoon, 186 workers were quarantined at a navy-operated hotel in Chonburi province. None of them were found to develop symptoms associated with the coronavirus, deputy chief of the Disease Control Department Thanarak Plipat said.