Suspend unsupervised return of migrant workers, southern provinces plead

By Cuu Long, Ngoc Tai   October 3, 2021 | 05:25 am PT
Suspend unsupervised return of migrant workers, southern provinces plead
Thousands of people from HCMC and nearby provinces return home in the southern Soc Trang, Oct. 3, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Xuan
Overloaded quarantine camps and fear of outbreaks amidst burgeoning number of returnees have prompted Soc Trang to ask that unsupervised return of migrant workers be suspended.

The petition has been supported by another southern province, Hau Giang, on the same grounds of not having the capacity to handle unsupervised returnees.

Tran Van Lau, Chairman of the Soc Trang People's Committee, said Sunday that the province has received 30,000 people on motorbikes in the last three days from Ho Chi Minh City, Long An, Dong Nai and Binh Duong, the highest such influx among Mekong Delta provinces.

On Saturday night alone, the province received over 20,000 returning workers, mostly unscreened, creating a situation with high potential for new outbreak.

The province has requisitioned its schools to become centralized quarantine facilities, but these are not enough, Lau said, adding that if the number of returnees continued to increase, the local epidemic prevention and control agencies will be unable to handle the workload, considerably increasing the risk of an outbreak.

"The province has sent a proposal to the government asking that migrant workers are not allowed to return to their hometowns in the Mekong Delta for 15 days," Lau said, adding that during this time, localities will focus on the safety of those who have already returned and controlling the pandemic.

The Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control in Soc Trang Province has asked people to limit going out and directed lower level administrations to suspend the issuance of road permits except for special cases.

All the papers issued so far will not be valid after 9 a.m. Sunday, the committee said.

Very necessary

Dong Van Thanh, Chairman of Hau Giang People's Committee, agreed with Soc Trang’s proposal, adding that it was very necessary.

He said that in the first two days of October, the Hau Giang had received more than 2,600 returning migrant workers. Even after using many school premises as centralized quarantine facilities, the province was not able to meet rising demand, he added.

Thanh reiterated that the suspension of people returning to their hometown for 15 days was esssential. When stability returns, the province will have plans in place to welcome more migrant workers wanting to return, he said.

On September 30, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh had said that HCMC and the provinces of Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Long An should continue to monitor the flow of people going in and out and not let them travel to other localities unsupervised.

According to statistics of the Ministry of Public Security at the time, there were 3.5 million people from provinces and cities across the country working in HCMC and provinces of Long An, Binh Duong and Dong Nai. Of these, 2.1 million want to return to their hometowns.

Given the huge demand, authorities in HCMC and nearby provinces have arranged buses to transport people to their hometowns. The city alone has arranged 113 buses since Friday afternoon at its gateways to take people home.

Once reaching their hometown, they would be placed under different levels of quarantine depending on their vaccination status.

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