Prime Minister Hun Sen has allotted an additional 1.5 billion riel ($368,000) to four provinces bordering Thailand for support of returning migrants in quarantine.

Meanwhile, more than 7,000 people have been vaccinated against Covid-19 in the first five days of the campaign by the ministries of Health and National Defence.

And in response to instructions from Hun Sen, representatives of the ministries of Justice and Health met on February 16 to review and revise the sub-decree concerning the implementation of health measures at the borders.

Health ministry secretary of state York Sambath announced the provision of new funding, food and other materials for the provinces of Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey, and Pailin.

Battambang and Banteay Meanchey were allotted 300 million riel while Oddar Meanchey and Pailin were given 400 million riel and 500 million riel respectively.

Battambang and Pailin were also provided with 1,000 cases of drinking water and 1,000 cases of instant noodles. Banteay Meanchey received 1,000 sleeping kits while Oddar Meanchey was given 1,000 cases of drinking water and 500 sleeping kits.

Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine announced that the first five days of the voluntary public vaccination campaign had seen more than 2,000 people receive the Sinopharm vaccine donated by China.

“In total, 2,678 people came for vaccination from February 10-15, including 1,003 women. We successfully vaccinated 2,122 people, including 698 women, while 556 others were declined due to health problems,” she said.

The defence ministry announced on February 15 that 4,969 members of the armed forces had been vaccinated including soldiers and police.

The health ministry noted that the Sinopharm vaccine is now available at Calmette Hospital, Preah Ang Duong Hospital, the Khmer-Soviet Friendship hospital, the National Paediatric Hospital, and Preah Ket Mealea Hospital.

Separately, the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok issued instructions for all Cambodian nationals in Thailand to follow proper procedures when repatriating, saying failure to abide by regulations could endanger the public by importing Covid-19 to Cambodia.

“All migrant workers without exception must undergo quarantine according to health measures if they need to return to Cambodia. Those who escape from quarantine will be fined one million riel or more and be subject to punishments as stated in the Criminal Code,” the embassy said.

The embassy also requested migrants to share any information pertaining to brokers who illegally smuggle workers across the border, either to or from Cambodia.

Justice minister Koeut Rith and the health ministry’s Sambath led a meeting on February 16 to discuss proposals to revise sub-decree No 129, as per Hun Sen’s orders, but neither Sambath nor justice ministry spokesman Kim Santepheap could be reached for comment.

The prime minister issued instructions for the two ministries to amend the statute to increase fines for people who avoid or escape from quarantine following the recent discovery in Takeo province of returning migrants who had skipped quarantine by re-entering the country illegally.