Jail Turned Into Field Hospital After 42 Foreigners Caught Virus

Exterior of Songkhla Immigration Detention Facility.
Exterior of Songkhla Immigration Detention Facility.

SONGKHLA — A detention facility is being turned into a field hospital after 42 of its foreign inmates reportedly contracted the coronavirus from an immigration officer, health officials said Sunday.

Those infected are foreigners being held at the immigration detention center in Songkhla’s Sadao district, which has a total of 115 inmates, provincial public health office chief Uthitsak Harirattakul said.

“All of them are in stable condition, but we have to monitor another group of 73 detainees for chances of infection,” Uthitsak said. “The facility was placed under lockdown and transformed into a field hospital to isolate them. Only those in critical condition will be transferred to a hospital.”

Officials traced the infection cluster to an immigration officer who worked at Sadao border checkpoint.


The unnamed officer reportedly visited the detention center on April 4. He later tested positive for the coronavirus on April 20, resulting in temporary closure of the checkpoint he manned. Up to 200 immigration officers working with him were placed under quarantine.

The foreigners held at the Sadao immigration facility were accused of illegal entry to the Kingdom and other visa violations.


Songkhla governor Jaruwat Kliangklao said the infected detainees will be treated until fully recovered before being deported to their respective countries. He also urged members of the public to remain calm, since all of the new infections are confined within the facility.

Apart from six additional immigraion officers and a policeman who shared close contact with the infected officer, none of the Thai returnees from Malaysia have been infected so far, Jaruwat said.

The southern province reported no new cases of infection on Monday. Its total tally now stands at 104, according to the Department of Disease Control.