The provinces bordering Thailand have tightened border checkpoints and added separate quarantine facilities for workers returning from Thailand following Prime Minister Hun Sen’s directives regarding these matters.
On July 1, Hun Sen ordered the border provinces to use strict quarantine measures and no longer allow workers returning from Thailand to quarantine in their hometowns.
“What is a big concern for us is the Cambodian border and the main problem is not Thais coming into Cambodia. It is our Cambodian workers who go to work in Thailand and return after failing to find a job there,” he said.
“Previously, we had required quarantines at the border, but then we were doing temperature checks and then transporting them to quarantine near their hometowns instead,” he said.
“Now workers are required to complete quarantine at the border, which is why we need to pay a lot of attention to the Thai border and strengthen border security,” he said.
On July 4, Banteay Meanchey provincial governor Um Reatrey led a team organising three more quarantine centres in Sisophon town and Mongkol Borei district.
Provincial information department director Sek Sokhom told The Post that his province was ready to set up a quarantine centre for workers returning from Thailand.
“In Banteay Meanchey province, we have three border checkpoints from Thailand: Malai district, the Poipet international border checkpoint and the O’Bei Choan border checkpoint.
“But O’Bei Choan border checkpoint is a Cambodian-Thai bilateral crossing. We allow workers to enter through this gate for better management, and we have a quarantine centre about 300m from the border, which requires workers to quarantine,” he said.
He also said that previously workers from Thailand via Banteay Meanchey province were allowed to quarantine in their respective hometown, but the provincial working group decided to require workers to quarantine at a border location after receiving a new government directive.
In Koh Kong province, administration director Sek Sam Ol said the provincial expert working group was studying the possibility of building a quarantine centre along the border at the Cham Yeam international checkpoint for workers from Thailand to strengthen border measures.
“We are looking at the possibility of building a quarantine centre along the border, but the location is not favourable because there are so many mountains and it would cost a lot.
“Currently, the provincial administration has set up a Q2 centre at the old provincial hall to receive workers from abroad, especially from Thailand, and any workers who enters Cambodia must do 14 days of quarantine,” he said.
Sam Ol said that from April 2020 to July 4, a total of 1,394 workers had returned from Thailand through that checkpoint and only one of them was found to be positive for Covid-19.
In Battambang province, information department director Sous Sopheak said that in order to strengthen effective border and cross-community measures, the provincial administration plans to add up to 6,000 beds for treatment and quarantine.
“The provincial governor has tried to expand the rooms and beds both at the border and in Battambang to at least 6,000 beds,” he said.
“Currently in Battambang there are three border crossings and we also have three quarantine centres, but in all three locations there are only 800 beds in total, so the provincial leaders plan to expand to 1,600 beds for quarantining workers,” he explained.
Sopheak said that since the large-scale outbreak of Covid-19 in Cambodia began, nearly 30,000 Cambodian workers had returned from Thailand through Battambang.