Selected Audio-Message of Samdech Techo Hun Sen, Concerning Covid-19 Community Outbreak in Thailand and Preventive Measures against Community Transmission in Cambodia

Venerable Buddhist Monks,

Dear compatriots,

Today, I have an urgent message to our Buddhist monks and compatriots regarding the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic in the communities in the Kingdom of Thailand, where there have been 576 infected in one day, and in one area. This situation in Thailand is not serious compared to its more than 60 million population, but this incident has become a psychological problem causing fear to (Cambodian) workers, especially to the families of our workers who are working in Thailand.

May Workers Protect Themselves, Trust Measures of Thai Government

In such a situation, I would appeal to all workers who are working in Thailand to trust the Royal Government of Thailand in its efforts to manage this situation. As far as this pandemic is concerned, the Kingdom of Thailand has experience in managing it in the past. So far, Thailand has only 4,907 cases and only 60 deaths. It has done well to control Covid-19 pandemic. We hope that our workers in Thailand trust the handling capacity of the Thai Government and the relevant Thai authorities there. (Our workers) should not run away from Thailand when Thailand is in trouble, as I have said before, love each other in times of need, and we will know good friends in times of difficulty. We should stay on, on the one hand, to protect ourselves on the spot, with the necessary protection from the Royal Government of Thailand, providing the possibility of self-protection, and on the other hand, to avoid the return that could lead to imports (of possible transmission) should there be into our country. This is an appeal to the workers living in Thailand.

Workers and Those Ready to Enter Thailand, Please Suspend Your Plans

I am taking this opportunity to appeal to parents, families, spouses or children, who have relatives working in Thailand, to encourage their children, husbands, brothers and sisters to continue their works. Keep our jobs there. Hope you will continue to work there with the Thai people. The Royal Government of Thailand is capable of solving difficult problems, and this has already happened, moving from one place to another is not good. So please do not rush to return to the country. In the meantime, some of you who need to enter Thailand legally or illegally, please delay. If you go in … illegally, it will be more difficult, Thailand will send you back. If it is legal, you must take the 14 days quarantine. Samdech Krolahom Sar Kheng is also requesting the provinces and relevant authorities to work with the Thai side to take responsibility for our workers when entering Thai territory. That would include quarantines at the expense of the Thai side and benefits during illness as well. This is my appeal to the workers in Thailand, to the parents, as well as to the families of the workers and those who are preparing to enter Thailand. I am asking those who planned to enter Thailand illegally and legally to suspend them in such circumstances.

50 Million Riels/Province for Quarantines and Sample Taking Tasks

In addition, I have had discussions in the morning with the Ministry of Health, with Samdech Krolahom Sar Kheng, with relevant departments such as the National Defense division, the Commander-in-Chief, the Commander of the Royal Cambodian Army, and the Minister of National Defense to get their services ready to help with quarantines in the (Thai-Cambodian) border provinces. Today, I also released 50 million riels per province for the provinces bordering (with Thailand) in addition to the budget released before. We will supplement so that the provinces along the border can afford to do the jobs of sheltering for quarantines. Under normal circumstances, it is not possible to enter the country without inspecting the specimens and conducting quarantines for 14 days at the border. On this point, those of you who are in Thailand, when they return, they cannot go inside the country immediately. They need to stay in quarantine at the border.

Troops to Transport Workers in Case of Overcrowding

In situations where the number of people is out of control, the army has to get out of the trucks to transport them to the rear. According to the information from the Commander-in-Chief of the Army as well as the Commander of the Royal Cambodian Army, the trucks will leave tonight to the three reserved entry points – O Smach, Dong and Poipet. About 70 trucks have to go there to be ready for transport in case of overcrowding at the border. We will not allow people traveling from Thailand to enter the country by taxi or in an uncontrolled process as it may lead to risks of infecting communities that we do not know. Therefore, the army will be responsible for transporting them, including providing them with supplies, and cooperate with the provinces along the border, the police force, as well as the military police working along these three border crossings.

Border Crossings Reduced to Just Three

[…] We have experiences. Our border crossings are many, so we should follow the experience we had in April (on the occasion) of the Khmer New Year. Reduce (the number of) all border checkpoints to only three with the agreements of the relevant provinces, the army and the border police, especially the immigration police. Reducing those ports to three – O Smach, Dong and Poipet, makes it easier to manage and transport them. The trucks leave tonight and tomorrow will reach the destination to wait for the jobs. This work also needs to have an agreement with the Thai side. The provinces along the border with Thailand work (with) the Thai side to determine the ports and explain the Thai side (about the need to have the Cambodian workers) traveling to/through the three ports. This is easy to manage, control and easy to transport back to their homes in case of need to transport to the rear.

Provinces in the Rear Set up Quarantine Places

I suggest that the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Interior, which govern these armed forces, to unite, especially the border police, the military police, to temporarily reduce the number of entrances to the three main ones so that we can transport them in case (there are) more people than the quarantine capacity at the border. At the same time, in the case of (some who came through) other corridors, it is also necessary to send them for quarantines in relevant provinces other than these three areas […]

For provinces in the rear, as in the past, the locations of quarantine must be properly set up and we have already provided a budget for the jobs. Therefore, it is necessary to prepare immediately with the rear provinces to be ready to receive them as (the military trucks) will transport from the front to the villages of destination, and the village (local authorities) must pay attention to the management/control of each family as it used to.

Living with the 60 million Thais in This Situation

The experience in April has given us the good results and we should do it accordingly now. More than 120,000 people at that time did not bring in any infectious cases from Thailand to Cambodia due to good cooperation from the family. (At that time, some had even written) sign (in front) of the house, saying – “we have children returning from Thailand. Please do not visit us.” There were also many other ways. (Prepare to organize) location of quarantine in the villages/communes with food supply – (all efforts) to avoid uncontrollable community transmission in our country. Therefore, it is important to call on the workers working in Thailand to trust the handling capacity of the Thai government as well as the relevant parties there. More than 60 million Thais can be in Thailand, so we can also be with the Thai people in this situation. In case you come into the country, you also need to be in quarantine. If not in the provinces at the border, you must also be in quarantine at the rear and have to take a sample to find out if there is, or there is no infection.

Fabric Masks Released

On this occasion, I would instruct the Ministry of Health, in addition to the fund provided this morning, to release more fabric masks to the provinces along the border and to the three reserved entry points. I have not yet determined the amount. Relevant parties may discuss because there would be different needs. For the three main entry points – O Smach, Dong and Poipet, we must provide them with a large number of masks. Once they are there, we have masks for them to put on. Of course, they would come with masks already but sometimes those masks are not for them to use for long time. That is why we need to use fabric masks that we can use it more than one and for two or three months. Each person gets two masks. While one washed, s/he can wear another one changeably. So let us implement it. I hope that we will overcome the difficulties and cooperate with our Thai friends to do this work well to avoid community spreading.

Do Not Export Pandemic to Neighboring Countries, Do Not Import It too

We have governed situation well around our country – with the Kingdom of Thailand, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. We do not export disease to these countries, and these countries do not bring disease into Cambodia. We did a good job with these three neighbors. We will continue to do this work with our three friends that are bordering with us. With (November-28 community pandemic outbreak gradually under) control as there have been no new infections in the last three days, and I had hoped that we will reach a new stage, (suddenly) a new situation has arrived – an outbreak in Thailand (and with possible return of Cambodian workers in large number) that could spread to Cambodia. In this early stage, it is the spread of psychological fears. Our real disease right now is fear. Of course, I used to say that we must be afraid, not be brave (for this disease), but to be overly fearful will become a problem. It becomes a shock and a panic. Covid-19 is fearful, but we must not shock and panic.

At the Border and At the Rear, Samples Taken and Quarantine for 14 Days

We hope that our people will take part in implementing the measures taken by the Royal Government and the new measures in response to the spread of Covid-19 that has spread to the community in Thailand within this one day. It leads to unstable psychological factors that are emerging in our country. (We must be) prepared. Considering it will happen is better than leaving it ignored. Therefore, the army must reserve and send out about 70 trucks. If necessary … mobilize immediately and the Ministry of Health must monitor and dispatch teams of doctors to take samples at designated places and those quarantined at the corridor. It is not enough to have quarantine alone. It requires a sample taking and examining. Within 14 days, if there is no problem, we allow them to leave. At the border and at the rear as well, take a sample and quarantine for 14 days. If we fail to do so, there will be a higher risk of transmission into community. I thank you all, my compatriots./.