Goods Transport to Thai Border Market Halted Amid Covid-19 Flare-Up

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Barbed wire has been wrapped around a gate closing off trains tracks crossing Poipet’s international border with Thailand. (Ananth Baliga/VOD)

Thai authorities have informed Cambodian authorities of a plan to suspend the entry and exit of goods into Rong Kluea market near the Cambodian border starting this weekend, citing Covid-19 precautions as the disease spreads in Thailand.

A letter issued by Sa Kaeo provincial authorities dated Tuesday says the transport of goods will be stopped from January 10 at the market near Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet city.

Banteay Meanchey deputy provincial governor Ly Sary said the halt is scheduled to last till January 28. It would affect Cambodian businesses, but was necessary to prevent the spread of Covid-19, Sary said.

Thousands in Thailand have tested positive for Covid-19 since an outbreak at a seafood market near Bangkok last month, and 20 returning Cambodian workers have also been found to have the disease and sent to hospitals for treatment.

About 2,000 workers have returned to Banteay Meanchey from Thailand since the outbreak, Sary said. They have been tested and placed in quarantine for 14 days, he said.

Battambang provincial deputy governor Soeum Bunrith said 1,888 Cambodians had returned from Thailand via the province’s two international border checkpoints of Doung and Phnom Dey. Goods transport continued as normal in Battambang, Bunrith added.

Koh Kong provincial governor Mithona Phouthorng said 63 returning Cambodian workers were currently in quarantine at the Thai border crossing in the province, and the transport of goods continued, though with greater precautions.

“We have a separate delivery area and the workers are not involved. We let drivers sit in another place, without communicating with the workers, and we spray the goods,” she said.

The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand also issued a statement on Wednesday that the Thai government had extended a state of emergency to February 28 to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Din Puthy, president of the Cambodian Informal Economic Reinforced Association, said he was concerned about the effect on people’s livelihoods as access to Rong Kluea market across the border was cut off.

“Cambodian people who do business at the border depend on the exchange of goods into the Thai market,” Puthy said.

(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)

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