Interior Minister Sar Kheng Says 40,000 Cambodians Working in Thailand Came Home

Interior Minister Sar Kheng tours the Cambodia-Thai border checkpoints in Battambang and Pailin provinces on Wednesday (March 25). Photo: Sar Kheng Facebook page.   
  • Phoung Vantha
  • March 26, 2020 7:56 AM

He also tells the authorities to help them protect themselves against COVID-19 

PHNOM PENH—Around 40,000 Cambodian migrant workers have returned to Cambodia ahead of the Thai-Cambodia border closing, Interior Minister Sar Kheng said Thursday (March 26).   

The announcement that Thailand would close its border with Cambodia on March 23 for at least two weeks prompted Cambodians working in Thailand to rush home. The measure taken by the Thai authorities is meant to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).   

According to Cambodia’s first numbers, around 21,000 workers had come home. But this number was only an estimate, Kheng said. "At Doung Check Point, Poipet, and other checkpoints, it seems that [matters were] out of control,” he said. 

In view of this, Kheng asked the local authorities to report on the number of migrant workers who had returned. They had informed him that more than 40,000 migrant workers had come home, Kheng said.

At border checkpoints on the Cambodian side, plans were not only to count the number of workers returning but also to submit them to a health check for COVID-19, Kheng said. However, things did not go as planned. “We didn't do well on health check-ups,” he said. 

Pok Samnang, who worked on sewing-machine installation in Thailand, said that he crossed the border at the Poipet city checkpoint in Banteay Meanchey province. "I arrived in Poipet on the afternoon of March 22, with no medical or health check [being conducted]," he said. 

Samnang reached home in Takeo Province on March 23 and went to his commune health clinic the following day to get tested for COVID-19.  The doctor told him he had no symptom but that he should come back in three days to get the test results, he said. 

Kheng recently said that, with thousands of workers returning from Thailand, the authorities did not have the facilities to keep them in quarantine for the 14 days required to ascertain whether a person has COVID-19. 

So he has asked the local authorities to pay attention to the workers who came home and give them information on measures to take to prevent the spread of the disease, he said.  

As of Thursday (March 26), 96 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in 13 provinces in Cambodia, according to the country’s health authorities


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