Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Southern Laos struggles with influx of returning migrants

Southern Laos struggles with influx of returning migrants

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Southern Laos’ Champasak and Savannakhet provinces are under pressure as hundreds of migrant workers return from Thailand, where the Covid-19 outbreak is worsening. VIENTIANE TIMES

Southern Laos struggles with influx of returning migrants

Southern Laos’ Champasak and Savannakhet provinces are under pressure as hundreds of migrant workers return from Thailand, where the Covid-19 outbreak is worsening.

Champasak borders Cambodia along Choam Ksan and Chheb districts in Preah Vihear province, as well as Thala Barivat and Siem Pang districts and Stung Treng town in Stung Treng province.

Local authorities are scrambling to find places to set up new quarantine facilities to accommodate the large number of returnees.

Health officials say that up to 38 per cent of returning migrant workers in Champasak province have tested positive for Covid-19, with high infection rates also recorded in Savannakhet.

Member of the Champasak Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, Dr Ratsamy Syphan, told Vientiane Times that workers are returning because of the recent surge in infections in Thailand, while the number of returnees testing positive for the virus has soared in recent weeks.

Most people are returning because they have lost their jobs or want to be with their families during the pandemic, he added.

The shortage of suitable places to set up quarantine facilities is a concern, he said, as existing centres are no longer sufficient to accommodate the large number of people returning from Thailand.

The shortage of facilities is one of the reasons why some returnees are reluctant to be quarantined, they have become too crowded and living conditions are unpleasant, while there is also a lack of dormitories.

In addition, there are concerns about the increased risk of contracting Covid-19 while staying in a crowded quarantine centre.

To cope with the spike in Covid-19 cases, Champasak provincial authorities have called for additional quarantine facilities to be set up. They have also asked for more patient beds to be provided at health centres in addition those available at hospitals.

The Ministry of Health is also considering opening a temporary hospital to accommodate people who test positive for Covid-19.

Large numbers of people return via Lao-Thai border crossings in Champasak and Savannakhet every day, with many testing positive for Covid-19 and being referred to hospitals for observation or treatment.

A senior official from the Champasak Labour and Social Welfare Department said: “We are experiencing a shortage of beds for Covid-19 patients due to the increasing number of imported cases, as well as a shortage of quarantine facilities.”

Champasak authorities have requested assistance from the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control in finding a solution to overcrowded hospitals as soon as possible.

Laos has so far recorded 4,762 cases of Covid after 142 more cases were reported on July 25.

The new infections were detected in the capital (11 imported cases), Borikhamxay province (one imported case), Khammuan (one imported case), Savannakhet (83 imported cases), Saravan (one imported case) and Champasak province (45 imported cases).



  • WHO: Covid in Cambodia goes into new phase

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia said that Cambodia has reached a new phase of the pandemic with “decreasing case numbers, high vaccination coverage and a more transmissible circulating variant threatening a hidden surge”. In a press release on September 6, the WHO said that

  • 'Pursue your goals, reach out to me': Young diplomat tapped as envoy to South Korea

    Chring Botum Rangsay was a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation before being designated as the new Cambodian ambassador to South Korea. According to her official CV published on the foreign ministry’s website, she started her first government

  • International air visitor arrivals dip 93%

    The number of foreign tourists entering Cambodia through the Kingdom’s three international airports witnessed a sharp 92.5 per cent year-on-year decline in the first seven months of this year, according to the Ministry of Tourism. The airports handled 51,729 international tourists in the January-July period versus

  • School reopening ‘offers model for other sectors’

    World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Cambodia Li Ailan said school reopening process should be used as a role model for reopening other sectors currently mothballed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Li strongly supports the government’s decision to reopen schools, saying it is a decision

  • Covid jab drive for 6-11 age group to begin Sept 17

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has permitted Covid-19 vaccinations for over 1.8 million children aged 6-11 across the country from September 17 in order for them to return to school after a long hiatus. Hun Sen also hinted that vaccinations for the 3-6 age group will follow in

  • Is Cambodia’s microfinance sector running its course?

    Economic growth and the strength of the banking system might have prompted a slow decline of the microfinance segment that has been raising a population ‘The MFI business model is over,” opined David Van, a Cambodian investment expert, recently. He felt that in a couple