The Thai government issued an emergency decree on March 26th, urging people to stay at home. Like in many other countries, this left people struggling to meet their needs as only food stores are allowed to remain open.
Many families are deprived of their livelihood. In parallel, the high needs for essential protective items have created shortages in all markets throughout the country. According to the Thai Ministry of Public Health, 1,651 cases and 10 deaths were reported in Thailand as of March 31st.
ACTED Thailand, currently works in both the Deep South of the country and in two of the nine refugees’ camps located at the Thai-Myanmar borders, supporting the needs of over 10,000 refugees; those who are already isolated and vulnerable. To prevent the virus from entering these camps, ACTED teams are providing risk communications and essential items to ACTED camp-based staff and beneficiaries such as hand sanitizers, liquid alcohol and soap and temporary washing stations.
Even though a few items such as mousseline, cotton or rubber strings are still limited items within the camps, ACTED supported its vocational training students and camp-based staff in the production of over 100 hand-made masks, which were then distributed for free in both camps in an effort to increase capacity to mitigate COVID-19 spread. Such an innovative and collective action serves as a way to support the common response against Covid-19 but also to put into practice their newly gained skills.
Over the upcoming weeks, ACTED Thailand will keep on providing support to the refugees by seeking funding opportunities to allow them to continue creating more hand-made masks as an effort to prevent the virus from ever spanning within their already vulnerable shelters.
These initial measures urgently need to be supplemented in order to increase preparedness and response capacities in this war battered country. ACTED is planning a major scale-up of its COVID 19 activities to this end in the weeks and months to come
 The WHO defines Risk Communications as “the exchange of real-time information, advice and opinions between experts and people facing threats to their health, economic or social well-being.”