Prime Minister Hun Sen on August 6 ordered all provincial governors – especially those of provinces bordering Thailand – to free up room at quarantine facilities as Cambodia prepares to welcome back around 10,000 migrant workers stranded at the border.
On July 29, Siem Reap and the seven provinces bordering Thailand were placed under lockdown, and border checkpoints were closed except to allow for goods transport and in emergencies, leaving hordes of migrant workers stuck in Thailand, the prime minister noted in an audio recording.
At least 54 of 245 migrant workers who returned to Cambodia from Thailand through the Boeung Trakuon border crossing in Banteay Meanchey’s O’Chrov district between July 29 and August 4 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, including the highly transmissible Delta variant, border police chief Van Daran told The Post on August 5.
Hun Sen stressed that the authorities have been providing food for the stranded workers, and letting in those expressly seeking Covid-19 treatment.
He signalled that he intended to relax border controls over the coming days to allow for more migrant workers to return home, especially those in need of medical care.
But to ensure that things go smoothly, he suggested that governors of border provinces allow people who have stayed at quarantine centres for at least seven days to relocate to facilities in other localities, or self-isolate at home, and free up space for the incoming workers.
“To that end, on the one hand, you could prepare a new quarantine centre. And on the other, you could move people from these installations to self-isolate at their own homes,” Hun Sen said.
He ordered the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces to deploy 200 trucks to transport people who have completed no less than a week of quarantine, from border areas to internal provinces.
“In case the numbers are overwhelming, migrant workers will have to be tested for Covid-19 and brought to quarantine centres inside the country straight away. This is a pressing matter that our officials must deal with immediately, both at the border and inner parts of the country,” Hun Sen said.
The prime minister also instructed Or Vandine, the head of the national Covid-19 vaccination commission, to start administering the third dose of coronavirus vaccine over the next few days for frontline workers in the provinces bordering Thailand – Koh Kong, Pursat, Battambang, Pailin, Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihear.
“This task must be performed post-haste,” he said, adding that there are between 30,000-40,000 frontline workers, including medical staff and military personnel.