1 Million Volunteers Deployed to Prepare for Virus Second Wave

A health volunteer checks the temperature of a student at a school in Satun, June 22, 2020.

BANGKOK (Xinhua) — Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health on Monday said it will be deploying 1.2 million public health volunteers across the country to stem and prepare for a possible second wave of COVID-19 infections.

The move came after reports of continuous illegal crossings of migrant workers into the Thai soil from Myanmar.

Thailand had imposed stringent measures including sealing all borders with Myanmar as the latter is experiencing a huge surge in infections.

Read: Meet Rural Health Volunteers, the Unsung Heroes on Virus Frontline

The Thai health authorities said on Monday that the deployment of health volunteers is necessary across the country as anti-government protestor clusters spread across the country in defiance of the state of emergency.

“However, we are more worried about illegal migrants sneaking into Thai soil rather than the Thai protestors’ clusters,” said Thanitpol Jayanandana, advisor to the Ministry of Public Health.

Thanitpol said the risks of imported infections are concerning, adding that local infections are rare, with only one local case in 100 days.

“We are concerned especially in the lower northern province of Tak,” he said.

Tak province shares a 560-km border with Myanmar, with most of the natural border area porous jungles, an easy escape for Myanmar nationals into Thailand.

Thanitpol also said the health volunteers recruited to combat COVID-19 are qualified as they have had experience in combatting mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue fever and malaria.

“These volunteers are important to our efforts as they already know how to prevent diseases and monitor health in these border communities,” Thanitpol said, before stressing the fact that Tak province has yet discovered any new local infection yet, despite the surge in cases in Myanmar.

“There are currently two confirmed cases in Myawaddy in Myanmar, very close to Thailand. If the situation gets out of control, we are at high risk,” he said.

Thanitpol said all hospitals in the area have been told to be ready for an outbreak, saying supplies of both equipment and medicine are adequate.