11 July 2024

Several residents of Thailand’s Mae Sot district rallied in front of the second permanent border checkpoint, at the Friendship Bridge, demanding the temporary closure of the crossing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from Myanmar.

Leaders of the protest took turns to deliver speeches, accusing officials of being lax in controlling the arrival of trucks from Myanmar, allowing some of them to venture as far as the fresh market and dense communities, exposing Thai residents to the virus, which is spreading in Myanmar.

Three Myanmar truckers were found to be infected after their return to the Myawaddi Township from Mae Sot last week. The discovery of the infections triggered a COVID-19 scare among people in Mae Sot, prompting Thai health officials to conduct random tests of almost 10,000 Thais and Myanmar migrant workers in vulnerable communities over the past few days.

Officials, led by Tak’s Deputy Governor, Somchai Kitcharoenroongrote, held talks with representatives of the protesters for about two hours. It was agreed, by both sides, that the checkpoint would not be closed, but Myanmar truckers, crossing the border to load and unload, will not be allowed into Mae Sot town, but will be kept within the safety zone near the checkpoint.

Meanwhile, the CCSA reported nine new COVID-19 cases today, among arrivals from abroad in state quarantine.

Among the new infections are six Thais. Three of them are Thai troops returning from South Sudan, one is Thai housemaid returning from Japan, as well as a stewardess and a masseuse returning from the United Arab Emirates. Two Indians and a 31-year old American from the UAE also tested positive.

Cumulative infections in Thailand, to date, are 3,652, with 3,457 recoveries. 136 are still being treated in hospitals and the death toll remains 59.