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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Sa Kaeo closes 19 Cambodian border checkpoints – Covid-19

Jack Burton

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PHOTO: The Nation

Despite denials only days ago, all 19 checkpoints in the eastern province of Sa Kaeo, two permanent and 17 temporary, along the border with Cambodia will be temporarily closed in a bid to stem the spread of the Covid-19 coronivirus. Thai health officials announced a new total of 599 cases. Read that story HERE.

The order, dated yesterday, signed by governor Voraphan Suwannus, is effective from Monday (tomorrow) until April 5.

Under the order, all persons and vehicles are forbidden to travel in or out through these checkpoints, with the exception of goods vehicles and pushcarts and their operators.

This morning from 10am, Voraphan, was scheduled to hold a meeting with Um Reatrey, the governor of Cambodia’s Bantey Meanchey province, to discuss measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus between the two border areas.

As of yesterday, 65 people in Sa Kaeo had been tested for the coronavirus. Of those, 47 tested negative, while 18 others were awaiting test results.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Thailand

More than 15,000 foreigners arrested since January for illegal border crossings

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ Kanchanaburi News

Thousands of foreign nationals have been arrested this year for illegally crossing land borders into Thailand. Due to fears that those entering Thailand illegally and evading the mandatory 14-day quarantine could possibly lead to the spread of Covid-19, particularly more contagious variants of the virus, Thai authorities say they will take tough legal action on illegal migrants and labour traffickers.

From January 1 to May 9, a total of 15,378 people have been arrested for illegally crossing land borders into Thailand. Out of the people arrested, 6,072 were from Myanmar, 5,114 were from Cambodia and 882 were from Laos.

The Thai Immigration Bureau is working with border patrol officers to tighten security along Thailand’s borders, the bureau’s chief Sompong Chingduang told the Bangkok Post.

“Those who enter Thailand illegally will be prosecuted under the immigration law, the communicable diseases and the emergency decree.”

In Thailand’s last wave of Covid-19 infections in December and January, fingers pointed at illegal Burmese migrants as the epicentre of infections were concentrated at a fishing hub in Samut Sakhon, affecting a large migrant worker population.

With the recent wave of infections peaking drastically higher than the past outbreaks in Thailand and said to be linked to the more contagious variant of the virus first found in the UK, health officials are now tightening security and control measures along the borders to prevent more cases.

Border security is also being increased to prevent the emergence of the variant of the virus first detected in India. The director of the Health Science Centre of Emerging Diseases at Chulalongkorn University’s faculty of medicine made a post on Facebook saying he was concerned the variant could be imported into Thailand and cause another wave of infections.

“In the next few months, the variant found in India may slip across the border into Thailand from Myanmar. Business operators are now importing illegal migrants again… If the border is left unchecked like this and no tough measures are imposed in Bangkok and adjacent provinces, brace yourselves for a fourth wave. The current third wave will pale by comparison.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Health officials point to Thailand’s porous borders as biggest “Indian variant” threat

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Flickr / Ole Holbech

Thailand’s health officials say the Kingdom’s porous borders pose the greatest risk in terms of the so-called Indian variant of Covid-19 being imported. Prasit Watanapa from the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital says there is a distinct possibility the highly contagious variant, currently wreaking havoc with India’s healthcare system, could be imported by migrants slipping into the country illegally.

“What is worrying us now is the possible arrival of this new coronavirus variant through the country’s border areas, given the fact that more than 15,000 illegal migrants have sneaked in over the past 4 months. So, it is now very critical to step up security measures along the borders shared with Myanmar, Malaysia, and Cambodia. The Thai-Laos border isn’t as much of a concern.”

According to a Bangkok Post report, Prasit believes the B.1.617.1 variant is most likely to arrive from India via the subcontinent and then Myanmar. He warns that were this to happen, it would take less than a week for B.1.617.1 to arrive in Thailand.

On Sunday, tests on a strain of Covid-19 detected in a Thai woman recently arrived from Pakistan confirmed she was infected with the B.1.617.1 variant. The 42 year old woman was tested while in state quarantine and, once it was confirmed that she was carrying the Indian variant, was moved to Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital.

Kiattiphum Wongrajit from the Public Health Ministry shares Prasit’s concerns and is calling on everyone living in border areas to remain vigilant and report any sightings of potential illegal migrants. He adds that not much is known yet about the B.1.617.1 variant, including whether or not it is more resistant to Covid-19 vaccines.

Meanwhile, Opas Karnkawinpong from the Department of Disease Control says illegal border crossings remain a source of significant concern for health officials. He says immigration officials have apprehended 1,218 illegal migrants this month alone. Most of those detained had arrived from Cambodia and Myanmar and Opas has urged officials to tighten border security and called on locals living in border areas to work with the authorities to end the illegal crossings.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Once Covid-19 free, Cambodia eases lockdown amidst surge

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Cambodian medical workers address the new Covid-19 surge (via Flikr - IAEA Imagebank)

After remaining relatively unscathed during the global pandemic in 2020, Cambodia, like other countries in the region, is in the midst of a massive Covid-19 surge. As recently as late February, the country had only seen about 500 cases in their population of 16 million. But just two days ago, 650 new cases and 4 fatalities were recorded nationally. Cambodia has now had 17,621 Covid-19 cases and the highly contagious B.1.1.7. variant is now spreading in the country. For a nation that generally had zero infections per day, the outbreak that began at the end of February has often seen hundreds of new infections daily.

Until this new wave, Cambodia had managed to avoid a single Covid-19 death being recorded. But as of today, 114 people have died from the Coronavirus pandemic. The hospital system and medical facilities struggled to keep up with new patient care demand. On April 6, Prime Minister Hun Sen decreed that hospitals were nearing capacity and asymptomatic patients and those with only mild symptoms would be treated at home. The World Health Organisation, and their representative to Cambodia, warned nearly a month ago that the nation was on the brink of a national tragedy.

“Despite our best efforts, we are struggling to control the virus. Unless we can stop the outbreak, Cambodia’s health system is at high risk of being overwhelmed, which would have disastrous consequences.”

The Cambodian government imposed strict lockdowns starting April 15 in Phnom Penh and surrounding districts, labelling red zones with about 300,000 people living inside. Cambodia also has a 3-day New Year celebration falling on the same dates as Sri Lanka’s New Years and Thailand’s Songkran Festival and encountered the same problem of people taking holidays and travelling to be with their families, spreading Covid-19 as they went.

The lockdowns have been severe with extremely harsh penalties being threatened in an attempt to curb the spread of the newest Covid-19 outbreak in Cambodia. But some groups are warning that the humanitarian crisis is growing with the country strictly sealed off and people locked in their homes, preventing food and other necessities from being acquired. Facing criticism the Prime Minister ended the lockdown this week.

For now, vaccination seems to be the way out of this second wave crisis. The month of May brings an ambitious campaign to start in the worst infected areas and vaccinate about half a million Cambodians using the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccine manufactured by China. About 6 in every 100 people have been vaccinated in the country after 2.6 million jabs have been given.

Read about the current Covid-19 situation in countries around South and Southeast Asia: Cambodia, India, Indonesia, The Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

SOURCE: CNN

 

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