SA KAEO, Mar 19, 2020, Bangkok Post. Immigration authorities have moved to quell rumours of impending border checkpoint closures which had prompted Cambodians to cross into Thailand to buy bottled water, Bangkok Post reported.
Arthit Yakaew, chief of the Aranyaprathet border checkpoint, on Friday denied that the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak would force the border crossing at Aranyaprathet and Ban Khao Din in Khlong Hat district to close.
He dismissed the rumour as unfounded, saying the checkpoints were operating as usual although health screening had been stepped up.
However, the provincial authorities have proposed to close 15 temporary border passes through natural channels in the province. Previously, these channels were open to allow Cambodians to cross into Thailand to work and return on the same day.
The proposed closures, which are intended to tighten control of the movement of people and improve health surveillance along the border, has been communicated to the Cambodian immigration authorities, according to Pol Col Arthit.
The rumour about the impending shutdown of two border passes had sent many Cambodians into panic buying mode as they scrambled to buy bottled water, which is in short supply in Cambodia, from the Thai side of the border.
It was reported that some Cambodians drove their cars to Aranyaprathet market and hoarded water while others pushed carts across the border to buy supplies in large quantities at the popular Rong Klua market.
The immigration office has also noted that a growing number of Cambodian migrant workers have been leaving Thailand in recent days.
According to a border source, the workers are returning home after their employers in Thailand suspended businesses due to the spread of Covid-19. The workers said they could not stay in Thailand without income and had decided to head home.
At the Aranyaprathet border checkpoint, additional thermal scanners are being installed as authorities step up measures to screen the health of incoming visitors.