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Officials check arriving people for MERS using a thermal scanner at the Phnom Penh International Airport in June.
Officials check arriving people for MERS using a thermal scanner at the Phnom Penh International Airport in June. Vireak Mai

New health checks in works for travellers

The Council of Ministers passed a sub-decree on Friday to prevent the spread of global pandemics by allowing officials at the Kingdom’s points of entry to inspect any travellers suspected of having contracted diseases abroad.

Concern that diseases such as bird flu, Ebola, or the more recent Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) could spread to Cambodia prompted the government to pass the sub-decree, according to a statement from the Council of Ministers.

The sub-decree “takes action implementing health and hygiene standards on all passengers”, the statement read.

“All those suspected of having diseases at checkpoints and borders throughout the country will be checked.”

Last year, an Ebola epidemic in West Africa killed over 10,000 people, while an outbreak of MERS in South Korea from May to July of 2015 killed more than 30, according to the World Health Organization.

In response to the crises, Cambodia set up thermal body scanners at its two international airports in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, along with the land crossings of Bavet and Poipet.

Ly Sovann, chief of the Health Ministry’s Communicable Disease Control Department, said it was difficult to predict how vulnerable Cambodia was to such global diseases, “so we need to prepare”.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHARLES ROLLET

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