BANGKOK, Nov. 10 (Reuters) – Thailand will set aside up to 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines for foreign workers as it prepares to welcome them back to the country to help alleviate a labor shortage, a minister said on Wednesday .
The government plans to let workers from neighboring Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos back into the country starting next month and to fill shortages in major export industries such as food and rubber production.
Workers will be quarantined for two weeks during which time the vaccines will be administered, said Labor Minister Suchart Chomklin. They are also being tested for COVID-19.
“We have prepared 400,000 to 500,000 doses to vaccinate migrant workers,” he said. The Department of Labor estimates there is an immediate demand for 420,000 migrant workers.
Easing controls will also help stop the smuggling of workers, the government said.
Nearly 11,000 people were arrested last month in cases related to smuggling, compared to 1,456 arrested in the same period last year.
Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat and Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani
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