More than 300 Chinese gamblers and workers have been sent home from Laos after two months held in quarantine in the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone in Laos, sources in the country say.
Most of those returned had come to the Golden Triangle as tourists before area casinos were closed in March to slow the spread of coronavirus, and had been watched for signs of illness before their release, sources said.
“The authorities have sent over 300 Chinese back home over fears of COVID and because the border has been closed,” a resident of Bokeo province’s Ton Pheung district told RFA’s Lao Service, without saying how or when the returnees had left the country.
“The Chinese also wanted to go home. The SEZ is now closed, and no one knows when it will reopen,” he said.
“These were all tourists and workers who were laid off,” when the SEZ , which began operations in 2007, closed its doors, a member of the district’s Taskforce Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control told RFA on Wednesday.
“And because the Golden Triangle has suspended all its services, the stranded tourists and jobless workers were sent home,” he said, adding that the group sent back are just the first group scheduled to go home.
“More Chinese workers and shopkeepers still remain behind,” he said.
Reached for comment by RFA, a worker at the SEZ office who answered the phone declined to provide details of the group’s transfer home.
Around 125 Burmese working at the Golden Triangle SEZ were sent home earlier on May 8 and returned to Myanmar’s Thakhilek province at the request of the provincial governor, Lao sources said.
And a group of 90 travelers from China, including 77 Chinese rail workers, recently landed at the Wattay International Airport in the Lao capital Vientiane, Lao Vice Minister for Health Phoutone Meaungpak announced on May 19.
“Also in the group were eight Lao students coming from Wuhan, and another five were Lao students returning from Suzhou,” he said, adding that authorities have also recently admitted into the country 1,761 travelers from Thailand and 584 travelers from Vietnam.
Reported by RFA’s Lao Service. Translated by Max Avary. Written in English by Richard Finney.