More than 5K workers rush from Thailand amid outbreak

Returning migrant workers seen in a truck in Banteay Meanchey province. Banteay Meanchey Provincial Hall

Following the recent outbreak of Covid-19 in Thailand’s Samut Sakhon province, Cambodian migrants working in Thailand were gripped by worry over the situation and many rushed to return to their homeland.

Over the past 10 days, more than 5,000 migrant workers have returned from Thailand through the seven provinces that are adjacent to the Thai border.

The provincial authorities have taken protective measures in response to the situation, following the orders of the government, specifically the Ministry of Health.

They have strictly adhered to the ministry’s instructions and stopped all returning migrant workers from travelling straight to their homes and families after crossing the border.

Instead, they must remain in quarantine for 14 days with no exceptions to the instructions, which have been in force since December 20.

Migrant workers are only allowed to leave quarantine centres after they have been isolated for 14 days and have a second negative test for Covid-19.

Oddar Meanchey deputy provincial governor Dy Rado told The Post that around 1,900 migrant workers had returned from Thailand through his province from December 20 to January 4.

They have all had samples taken for testing but so far no one has tested positive.

“The most important thing for our province is for our people to understand, respect and follow the health ministry’s instructions.

“We are determined to keep migrant workers entering our province in quarantine for 14 days and we have the [quarantine] centres ready for them,” he said.

Rado added that Oddar Meanchey province had a total of 14 quarantine centres to isolate the returning workers available should there be any increase in their numbers.

The provincial authorities had also prepared adequate food and supplies to take care of large numbers of them at once, he said.

“We have used the funds provided by Samdech Techo Hun Sen for migrant workers to make their quarantine stay as pleasant as we’re able to.

“They won’t be as worried if they know they will be given three meals a day and we have plenty of things like mosquito nets, blankets, pillows, mats and soap,” he said.

Rado noted that one returning migrant worker had failed to enter quarantine. But the authorities were able to quickly locate him and have since quarantined him along with his eight family members.

Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary told The Post that over the past two weeks over 1,000 migrant workers had returned from Thailand through his province.

He said they had all properly been isolated at the province’s 12 quarantine centres in accordance with the health ministry’s instructions.

He added that the provincial leaders had instructed all village and commune authorities to detain any migrant workers who had entered Cambodia undetected via unofficial crossing points so that they could be placed in quarantine immediately.

“Although our province hasn’t had any migrant workers test positive for Covid-19 yet, we cannot ignore or relax our guard. We will continue with the restrictions and enforce quarantine procedures for as long as necessary.

“Police and health officials have been working in shifts 24 hours a day at all official and unofficial crossing points along the border in our province,” he said.

Sary continued that Banteay Meanchey provincial authorities had cooperated with Thai counterparts to disseminate health information and other instructions to migrant workers who remained on the Thai side of the border.

Battambang deputy provincial governor Soeum Bunrith told The Post that from December 28 to January 4, some 1,815 people returned from Thailand through the province’s international border checkpoints.

Of the 1,815 workers, six had tested positive for Covid-19. The province is currently operating seven quarantine centres.

Nguon Ratanak, Battambang provincial governor, said that, “We made this our number one priority – to follow the instructions of Samdech Prime Minister and enforce the 14-day quarantine for all migrant workers. We don’t allow any of them to return home without doing it first.”

Ratanak also said that some of the workers have been waiting for the results of their second test because they had now completed the 14-day quarantine.

If the second test given at the end of quarantine comes back negative, the authorities will let them go home, he confirmed.

Preah Vihear province has already had some migrant workers complete the 14-day quarantine and get the results from their second test, so the authorities allowed them to return homes individually.

Provincial health department director Kong Lo said there were 10 migrant workers remaining in quarantine.

The health ministry said that on January 3, a 21-year-old migrant worker living in O’Andong commune of Pailin province’s Sala Krao district had tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from Thailand on January 1.

She is currently being treated at the Pailin Provincial Referral Hospital.

As of January 4, Cambodia had recorded a total of 382 Covid-19 cases with 20 patients remaining hospitalised.

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