Overstaying Thais return across border

Overstaying Thais return across border

Dozens obey order from Malaysian govt

Soldiers stand guard along the 22km Thai-Malaysian border wall in Ban Jaroh Pu-ngo in Betong district of Yala in January. (Army photo)
Soldiers stand guard along the 22km Thai-Malaysian border wall in Ban Jaroh Pu-ngo in Betong district of Yala in January. (Army photo)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered security agencies to repatriate Thais stranded in Malaysia due to the Covid-19 situation there.

About 30 Thais returned home via the Betong border crossing point in Yala after Malaysia required all foreigners who had overstayed their visas to leave the country by April 21.

All returnees were first screened for Covid-19 by the Malaysian public health authorities -- those with a fever were immediately taken by ambulance to hospital while those without symptoms were driven to state quarantine facilities.

Deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek said Gen Prayut was monitoring the Covid-19 situation in the South and had ordered local government agencies to help Thai returnees from Malaysia in adherence with strict Covid-19 screening measures.

The Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre has reported that 1,933 beds had been set aside for Covid-19 patients in the five southern border provinces. Each of the provinces received 10,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses to inoculate medical workers and people in at-risk groups.

Chief of Defence Forces Gen Chalermpol Srisawat said the PM had ordered the armed forces to prepare for a large number of Thai returnees from Malaysia. They are being allowed to re-enter the kingdom through four border checkpoints in Narathiwat, Yala, Songkhla and Satun, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Gen Chalermpol dismissed suggestions by some politicians that the government cut the defence budget and use the money to buy Covid-19 vaccines instead. He said the armed forces had spent a considerable amount of money to help finance the Covid-19 relief cause.

Defence Ministry spokesman Lt Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich said the army's field hospitals had 3,000 beds available and the army planned to increase the number to 5,000 for Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms.

In Tak, four Rohingya from Myanmar's Rakhine state were arrested near the Moei River on Monday after illegally crossing the border into Mae Sot district. They were screened for Covid-19 and sent to Mae Sot police station to face charges of illegal entry, despite telling officers they were bound for Malaysia where they hoped to find work.

In March, more than 1,000 people were arrested for illegally entering Thailand, most of them (803) from Myanmar.

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