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Taekwondo star Sorn Seavmey and other members of the Cambodian Olympic team return to Phnom Penh last week.
Taekwondo star Sorn Seavmey and other members of the Cambodian Olympic team return to Phnom Penh last week. Sreng Meng Srun

Ministry screening Rio athletes for Zika virus

Cambodian athletes are being screened for Zika after returning from the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and health officials will monitor their health for two weeks in order to minimise any possible transmission, an official with the Ministry of Health said yesterday.

Chances of athletes being infected with the mosquito-borne illness are low, but officials had to take precautionary measures, said Health Ministry spokesman Ly Sovann.

Sixteen people were screened for Zika symptoms on Thursday after arriving in the Kingdom. Brazil has been ground zero for the Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects.

“No one showed any symptoms,” said Sovann. “We will follow their health for two weeks.”

However, no blood or other bodily fluid tests were conducted, which didn’t comfort Nhan Sokvisal, games coordinator for the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia and deputy chief for the Rio games mission. A blood test would eliminate any doubts, he said.

“We would have no questions,” he said. “We would feel . . . better.”

According to the WHO, the incubation period for Zika is not clear, but symptoms are likely to appear within a few days after becoming infected.

Health officials followed WHO’s recommendations for the screening, Sovann said.

Athletes were also educated on Zika and told to immediately contact health officials if they experience any symptoms.

Cambodia saw its last Zika case in 2010.

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