BANGKOK – Thailand has imposed stricter controls at its border with Malaysia to prevent Thais and foreign workers from trying to sneak into the country following the 14-day total lockdown in Malaysia, starting today.
In an effort to curb illegal cross-border activities during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has instructed the security forces to step up control, notably at the illegal trails in four Thai provinces bordering Malaysia – namely Narathiwat, Yala, Songkhla and Satun.
Fourth Army chief Lt. Gen. Kriangkrai Srirak said the security forces, comprising the army, rangers and Border Patrol Police, intensified the control and monitoring at the areas.
“We are also stepping up controls through aerial reconnaissance using drones and helicopters,” he told Bernama, here, today.
Malaysia is implementing a total lockdown, which started today until June 14, to reverse the COVID-19 curve that has soared since early April. As a result, Thais working in Malaysia are expected to return home to avoid the blockade.
Commander of the 5th Infantry Division Maj. Gen. Santi Sakuntanak said security forces will intensify patrols in Waeng, Sungai Kolok and Tak Bai in Narathiwat, and will step up the monitoring and patrolling at hotspot routes and put up barbed wires to prevent attempts to to sneak in.
“Thais who are currently in Malaysia and want to return are encouraged to use the country’s legal border gateway,” he said.
Meanwhile, Governor of Songkhla Jaruwat Kliangklao said the damaged Thai-Malaysian border fence in Sadao near Kedah and Perlis had been repaired.
“Security forces are also patrolling the hotspots to restrain them from crossing the border and avoid mandatory quarantine,” he said.
Thailand has tightened border controls after the South African variant of COVID-19 was detected earlier this month involving those entering through the border illegally.
The first local case of the South African variant was reported involving a 32-year-old Thai businessman from Tak Bai, Narathiwat, who was visited by family members from Malaysia.