Umphiem Refugee Camp Locked Down as 400 Residents Tested Positive for COVID-19

Officials at Umphiem Mai Refugee Camp have locked it down after 400 people tested positive for COVID-19. The camp in the Thai border district of Phoppra, Tak province is now officially locked down to prevent the pandemic from spreading further.

Camp committee members said on October 5 2021, health workers at Umphiem Refugee Camp had tested positive with Covid-19. Further tests of those in contact with the positive cases found more than 400 people had been infected by the last week of November, 2021.

Saw Ni Doh, assistant camp leader, told Karen News that more cases have been reported daily.

“A few positive cases are reported everyday. Although it is now less than in the previous month, it is not a safe situation yet. Frankly speaking, it is still a concern and the camp will still remain in lockdown.”

Saw Ni Doh said from the 5th of October to the end of November, of the 400 people infected, more than 200 have now recovered, but the remaining 200 patients are still receiving medical treatment – two of the infected adults died.

Saw Ni Doh said health officers found that Section (5) of the Umphiem Refugee Camp has the highest number of cases. Travelling in and out of the entire camp is now restricted and Thai health officials are taking care of those people who are in a critical condition.

In Umpheim camp, health officials said more than 3,000 residents between the ages of 18 and 60 have already been vaccinated and more people are expected to continue to be vaccinated. Currently, there are more than 8,000 people living in the camp, and it is not yet clear whether all of those eligible will be vaccinated as some residents are reluctant to be vaccinated.

On October 4th, the International Recue Committee (IRC), a INGO providing healthcare services in the camp, found its camp-based staff member, providing medical care for residents, was the first person to be infected with COVID-19 in Umpheim camp. Community-based surveillance found the outbreak has been on the rise since.

During the peak of the Covid-19 outbreaks in Thailand in July and August, 2021, Thai authorities ordered travel in and out of all its refugee camps to be restricted. The restrictions resulted in disruptions to delivery of goods, higher prices and created shortages of food supplies to the refugee camps along Thai-Burma border. Schools are to remain closed and community gatherings are still restricted to prevent further outbreaks of the pandemic.

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