BURIRAM — At a sports stadium, people live in tents without any air conditioning, separated from each other by metal fences, and eat from rice boxes handed out by officials.
This isn’t a scene of any natural disaster shelter. According to a video posted online, it’s a quarantine facility in Buriram province for Thai undocumented workers who returned from South Korea. One of the returnees said living in the humid, cramped stadium is unbearable.
“How can we live here for 2 weeks? I’d be dead,” Facebook user Kanokwan Phuchada, who filmed the site, said in the video. “The rooms need not be good, but it shouldn’t be like this.”
The workers are being held inside Chang International Circuit Stadium. The governor of Buriram province later apologized for the conditions; he said officials had little to prepare the venue before they arrived.
“As a representative of Buriram province, I’d like to offer my apology to the workers … it was a case of emergency,” Tatchakorn Hatthatayakul said at a news conference.
Workers returning from South Korea are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine at several facilities around Thailand, including one in Chonburi province and another in Buriram.
But photos and videos posted by Kanokwan show dozens of workers staying in tents set up on a concrete floor without bed mattresses. Men and women use the same bathrooms. There is no air-conditioning or ventilation system inside the mosquito-infested hall, and there’s no electricity outlet, she said.
“Don’t call it a health quarantine. I don’t know if I’d get dengue fever instead,” she said.
The post attracted over 300,000 views as of publication time. In another online post, Kanokwan said officials handed out the same type of bland fried rice for two days in a row.
Kanokwan also said they were told the hotels and apartments are full.
“We returned home to Thailand feeling exhausted already. Everyone’s afraid of coronavirus but they shouldn’t quarantine us like this,” she said.
The condition is a far cry from the navy-operated facility for Thai nationals evacuated from Wuhan in February. In that case, the evacuees lived in separate rooms and ate a variety of food prepared by navy nutritionists. They also participated in sports and activities designed to lessen their stress.
In response to those complaints, Gov. Tatchakorn said he has ordered officials to improve living and food conditions at the stadium.
Additional reporting Teeranai Charuvastra