Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Committee tracks influx of migrants

Committee tracks influx of migrants

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cambodian Muslims returning home after being quarantined for 12 days at a high school in Kandal province’s Takhmao town. Heng Chivoan

Committee tracks influx of migrants

A newly-established inter-ministerial committee is discussing ways to contain the Covid-19 pandemic ahead of the Khmer New Year and in anticipation of the return of more migrant workers from Thailand.

The General Department of Immigration said Cambodian workers continue to return every day through international border checkpoints and corridors after Thailand shut its borders.

It said both countries still allowed their nationals to return.

At the O’smach International Border Checkpoint in Oddar Meanchey province on Monday, 864 workers returned to Cambodia.

The General Department of Immigration director-general, Kirth Chantharith, told The Post on Monday that around 60,000 migrant workers have returned since the end of March, when Thailand announced its border closure.

He said an average of 1,000 workers arrive in Cambodia each day.

“O’Smach is the only official border checkpoint that remains open, but our workers are also coming through unofficial corridors. We are concerned about this, but we have immigration police working in cooperation with soldiers at the borders.

“We gather them and place them under quarantine,” he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Sunday that none of the migrant workers has caused harm to public health in their communities through coronavirus infections, which remained stagnant at 114 cases as of Monday.

Of the number, 53 Covid-19 patients, or 46.49 per cent, have been discharged from hospitals. The latest three patients who recovered on Monday are Malaysian nationals doing Islamic religious work in Kampong Cham province.

Meanwhile, 12 Cambodian Muslims from Svay Proteal commune in Kandal province’s Sa’ang district – who had been quarantined over the last 12 days after they went into close contact with two Covid-19 patients – have returned home after testing negative.

District governor Nhem Vandine said the 12 were isolated at the Hun Sen Takhmao High School.

“They were in close contact with the two Covid-19 patients, who tested positive but have already recovered,” he said.

On Monday, an inter-ministerial committee created on Thursday and led by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng held a meeting at the Ministry of Interior to discuss the pandemic.

Attended by top officials from the interior ministry, relevant institutions and the 25 municipal and provincial governors, the meeting aimed to introduce plans to prevent the virus from spreading across the Kingdom.

Health ministry spokesperson Or Vandine could not be reached for comment on Monday. But National Police chief Neth Savoeun, who is also the committee’s vice-president, said on his Facebook page that the meeting touched on the return of migrant workers before the Khmer New Year.

Kampong Speu provincial governor Vei Samnang, who was present at the meeting, echoed Savoeun.

He said attendees raised concerns about the influx of migrant workers from Thailand through unofficial corridors, which makes it difficult for the authorities to control them and monitor their health.

“It’d be ideal if the workers returned directly through the official borders. But, we’re worried that they are coming back through illegal border crossings.

“They don’t inform us when returning through such corridors. If they do, we can check up on their health.

“We have laid out measures to respond to the situation. And with the Khmer New Year approaching, we won’t allow any mass gatherings. If we let people gather, chances are they will drink in groups and possibly infect each other,” he said.

However, he said the final decision rests with Prime Minister Hun Sen, who will address the nation on Tuesday over government-imposed measures during the New Year celebrations.


  • Seven positive for Covid-19, Hun Sen confirms local transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that there has been local community transmission of Covid-19. However, he urged the people not to panic even though the Ministry of Health announced the discovery of seven new cases on Sunday. Among the victims are Chhem Savuth, the director-general

  • Cambodia at ‘most critical moment’, Hun Sen warns

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the first community transmission of Covid-19 in Cambodia has led the country to the “most critical moment” that warranted urgent, large-scale operations to contain the pandemic. Hun Sen, who confirmed the first local transmission on November 28, said the source of

  • PM confirms community transmission, calls for unity

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the public to stay calm, unite and follow the Ministry of Health guidelines after the wife of a senior official tested positive for Covid-19 in the Kingdom’s first case of community transmission. The case has drawn criticism

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there