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Thailand to keep Poipet border shut amid Covid

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A cart puller at the Poipet international border checkpoint in Banteay Meanchey province. Heng Chivoan

Thailand to keep Poipet border shut amid Covid

Thailand on Tuesday again denied a request from Banteay Meanchey provincial authorities to reopen the Poipet international border checkpoint to its Sa Kaeo province.

The border has been closed since March due to Covid-19 concerns.

Banteay Meanchey provincial governor Um Reatrey met with Sa Kaeo governor Woraphan Suwannus via video conference to discuss the reopening. The purpose is to allow Cambodians, especially vendors, enter Thailand to do business at the Rong Kluea market.

The Thai side has only allowed vendors to check on their products.

On its Facebook page, the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Administration said: “Thai officials in Sa Kaeo decided to keep the Poipet checkpoint closed and not allow Khmer vendors to enter to sell goods in the market yet.

“The Thai authority has only agreed in principle to allow vendors to enter the market to check and return goods to Cambodia and only allows 50 trucks. But each truck can have only two people.

“Vendors also have to fill out a health form and have a health check from the Ministry of Health first.”

A Sa Kaeo provincial official also confirmed that the Poipet-Ban Khlong Luek border checkpoint was not to be opened soon.

Neither Reatrey nor deputy governor Ly Sary could be reached for further comment on Tuesday.

But Sary told reporters on Monday that the request to meet with Thai officials in Sa Kaeo province to reopen the Poipet border checkpoint was made at the request of Cambodian vendors who are worried about their livelihoods.

Ly Meng Huy, a vendor at the Rong Kluea market, told The Post that vendors wanted to enter Thailand at this time because the Covid-19 situation had improved.

He said Cambodian vendors are also worried about their goods left in the market stalls, which have not been checked on.

“It should be simplified so Cambodians can go back to the market as normal. We thought the border would be closed for only a month.

That’s why we haven’t kept our goods properly. If it rains, the water can come in from the roof and damage the products.

“Vendors have spent lots of money and some have sold cows to buy products to sell in Thailand,” he said.

Thailand has reported 3,156 Covid-19 patients and 58 deaths since January. More than 3,000 patients have fully recovered and 75 remain hospitalised.

The Bangkok Post reported on Tuesday that there were no new cases of Covid-19 in the country, with only five new imported cases from the Middle East.

The Thai government has announced its lockdown will continue until the end of the month.

In Cambodia, another new imported case of Covid-19 was confirmed on Tuesday. The man, a Cambodian-American, arrived from the US on Sunday.

The latest case brings the total number of cases to 130, of which 127 have fully recovered. There have been no deaths. Most of the cases were imported. Cambodia has also not reported any community infection.

To prevent a second wave of infections, the Ministry of Health is tightening measures at the airports’ international checkpoints to prevent transmission from one person to another.

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