More than 12,000 migrant workers returned from Thailand to Cambodia along borders in Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey, Pailin and Koh Kong provinces from December 20 to January 9, the Ministry of Health said yesterday.
Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said: “Our current control is the number of workers returning… to Cambodia after the COVID-19 outbreak in Samut Sakhon province in Thailand. The Ministry of Health has taken measures and tightened the border checkpoint. We will not allow migrant workers to come into Cambodia without doing the right thing.”
“If we consider from December 20 to January 7, we were able to control the situation much better. We were able to control the passengers [being transported for quarantine], even if some people jumped out of trucks or ran away from some quarantine centres, we still found them and took them to be quarantined,” Vandine said.
She added that all Cambodians need to be extra vigilant, as COVID-19 is transmitted through people travelling from one place to another.
“We hope that through the attention and cooperation of all persons concerned, we will be able to effectively control the import of COVID-19 into our Kingdom of Cambodia as well,” she said.
Khloak Huot, director of the Oddar Meanchey provincial health department, said that an average of 150 to 250 migrant workers return to Cambodia through the border each day.
“I have observed that the number of migrant workers returning to Cambodia over the past few days seems to be unusually high and still increasing. On January 9, 250 workers came through the border checkpoint and yesterday in a half-day there were 210 people,” Hout said.
“If we consider the number of officials, there is no shortage. But the number of health care workers is insufficient because we are far away from the city and in a rural area. We don’t have a lot of civil servants because some of them finished their contract and some moved back to their hometown,” he added.
He added that recently, the number of operational centres is increasing every month with 11 locations for quarantine and three more centres have been set up to accommodate more patients in the future.
Ban Sreymom, Pailin province governor, said: “For an average day, there are 10 to 15 migrant workers who come through and this number will not affect the preparation and measures to prevent COVID-19 cases, as we have already cooperated with the authorities and the director of the Department of Health to prepare for the repatriation of Cambodian workers,” Sreymom said.
She added that the number of migrant workers is increasing day by day.
The Thai Ministry of Public Health’s Department of Disease Control has reported on its website that as of yesterday evening, a total of 157 Cambodians in Thailand have tested positive for COVID-19.
It noted that other nationalities who also tested positive were 1,219 Myanmarese, 86 Indians, 6,620 Thais and 1,397 others. The report did not specify whether the 157 infected Cambodians were migrant workers.
Meanwhile, Vandine said that all partner hotels have cooperated well to receive foreign or Cambodian travellers staying in quarantine. She was commenting on a Khmer Times report headlined “Quarantines inconsistent, Thai market closed to Cambodians”.
She said the article published on January 8 did not reveal the exact source of the incident and the ministry has requested Khmer Times provide the identity of the passenger, the time and the location of the incident clearly. Any persons in quarantine can call 115 to report problems for immediate attention. However, Khmer Times is in posession of receipts which highlights the quarantine charges inconsistencies and more.
Meanwhile, the ministry announced yesterday that Cambodian migrant workers’ cluster now totals 26 infected by COVID-19 with 4 new cases, which raises the Kingdom’s total to 391.
The latest four cases involved three women aged 24-years-old, 31-years-old and 35-years-old, who travelled from Thailand to Cambodia on December 30 and an unidentified 28-year-old.