Thailand offers COVID-19 vaccines to migrant workers

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 ease a labour shortage, a government minister said on Wednesday.

The government plans to allow workers from neighbouring Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos to re-enter the country beginning next month and fill up shortages in big exporting industries such as food and rubber production.

Workers will be placed in a two-week quarantine and during that time the vaccines will be administered, Labor Minister Suchart Chomklin said. They will also be tested for COVID-19.

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"We have prepared 400,000 to 500,000 doses to inoculate migrant workers," he said. The Labor Ministry estimates there is an immediate demand for 420,000 migrant workers.

Easing the controls will also help stop smuggling of workers, the government said.

Nearly 11,000 people were arrested in cases linked to smuggling last month, compared to 1,456 arrests over the same period last year.

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Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat and Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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