Thailand Closes Border to Shan State


Due to an emergency decree, Thailand halted all border crossings between Mae Sai in Chiang Rai Province, and Tachileik in Shan State on Tuesday evening.

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Photo by – ThaiPBS North/ Maesai – Tachilek (Thai – Myanmar Border)

Thai authorities had originally said that they would allow people holding official travel documents to pass over the bridge to Burma until 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday. After Thailand announced it would be declaring an official state of emergency on Thursday, border checkpoints closed early.

“The bridge is already closed,” Tun, who is in charge of the Thai-Burma relations department in Tachileik District’s General Administration Department (GAD), told SHAN.

Both Thailand and Burma announced that the bridge connecting the two countries would be shut on March 23. But when more than 200 migrant workers arrived at the Thai side of the bridge on March 23 to return to Burma, officials from both countries negotiated to allow their crossing.

Another 200 migrant workers arrived at the border crossing on the morning of March 24. Again, officials negotiated to allow them to return to Tachileik. Burmese authorities also sent 23 Thai nationals across the bridge on the same day.

No more exceptions will be allowed, Tun said.

On Monday, the Thai authorities repatriated 92 released prisoners to Burma through the Mae Sai-Tachileik border crossing. Among them, 11 people were suffering from a fever and were identified as potentially being infected with COVID-19 and have been hospitalized. Burmese authorities have put the remaining 81 people into quarantine.

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Photo by – ThaiPBS North/ Maesai – Tachilek (Thai – Myanmar Border)

“There were 11 suspected cases of COVID-19 yesterday. They were put in the hospital. We found another suspected case today,” Myint Naing, a GAD officer in Tachileik, told SHAN, referring to a man with a fever of 38 degrees Celsius. “They were sick. We have a responsibility to take care of them,” he added.

At the time of reporting, Thailand had confirmed 934 cases of the coronavirus, and four deaths.

Burma’s health ministry reported the country’s first two cases of the virus on Monday and one more on Wednesday. The figures have been questioned, due to the country’s lack of testing technology and weak health infrastructure.

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