Illegal migrant workers in Taiwan not to be excluded from coronavirus fight

Ministries working to ensure every foreign worker has access to disease prevention resources

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Migrant workers in Taiwan

Migrant workers in Taiwan (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — All migrant workers should be incorporated into the effort against the coronavirus (COVID-19), including illegal ones, said Taiwan’s Minister without Portfolio Lin Wan-I (林萬億) on Sunday (March 1).

The statement was made following the report that a foreign caregiver was the 32nd coronavirus case in the country, which triggered a debate as to whether a crackdown should be launched on illegal foreign carers, reported CNA.

Lin stressed that foreign workers, be they legal or illegal, are exposed to the same health risks. While legal laborers have better access to disease prevention information, to avoid loopholes, undocumented ones should not be excluded from the country’s virus-fighting campaign.

Lin acknowledged that a significant number of illegal migrant workers are unaccounted for after fleeing their employers due to ill treatment or labor disputes. The government of Taiwan will provide assistance if they are willing to turn themselves in, he said.

He advised against a sweeping clampdown on such migrant residents, which could force them into hiding and hamper efforts to curb the spread of the disease. The ministries of labor, health and welfare, and the interior are collaborating on publishing public health information in five languages, including Indonesian, Vietnamese, and Thai, he said, which will be disseminated to all foreign workers in Taiwan through various channels, according to the report.