Thailand tightens border surveillance as Myanmar infections rise

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Sittwe

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Authorities in Thailand tightened security on Friday along its border with Myanmar and carried out COVID-19 tests in nearby towns to try to keep the virus out, as Myanmar tackles a surge in cases amid a second wave of infections.

Both countries have so far been spared the major outbreaks seen elsewhere in Asia, but Myanmar’s quadrupling of its cases to 2,265 in less than a month has put Thailand on the alert.

Footage broadcast by local television showed border town residents and scores of Myanmar migrant workers queuing under tents to give swab samples at mobile testing trucks.

Military personnel laid out reams of coiled razor wire through forest along the porous frontier to deter illegal entry into Thailand, where several million Myanmar nationals work.

Thailand is determined to keep the virus at bay and has sealed off the country to all but returning Thai nationals and approved foreigners, who must all undergo quarantine.

The vast majority of Thailand’s 3,461 cases have long recovered and until last week, it had been more than three months without a domestic case.

Myanmar has a stay-at-home order in place and has closed schools, suspended domestic flights and barred non-essential travel in response to the resurgence.

(Reporting by Jiraporn Kuhakan and Prapan Chankaew; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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