As concern about the MERS virus’s spread mounts in the region, the Ministry of Health has ordered health workers in Siem Reap International Airport to use manual thermometers to screen passengers entering the Kingdom as the airport’s only ThermoScan unit is beyond repair.
The Health Ministry made the recommendation following recent complaints from passengers regarding the lack of proper temperature checks in the airport, Communicable Disease Control (CDC) Department Deputy Director Dr Bun Srenghas said. Airport workers had been tasked to use ThermoScans to check if passengers entering the country have a fever over 38 degrees Celsius – usually the first symptom of the deadly virus, which has so far killed 32 in South Korea and infected one man travelling to Thailand.
According to Phnom Penh resident Asim Jaweed, who flew through Siem Reap from Luang Prabang on Sunday, there were no noticeable “extra health precautions” at the airport.
“There was no health check, I saw no scan. I’m not sure how serious of a risk it is,” said Jaweed, adding that passengers also weren’t asked to fill out health declaration forms.
Sreng said that the airport’s only ThermoScan is broken.
“The technology is very specific and we have no way of fixing it. Using manual thermometers is not that ideal because it’s difficult to handle a huge number of passengers but at this time, we have no other way.”
The ministry is procuring four new ThermoScans to be distributed at border checkpoints. Sreng couldn’t say when the new scanners would arrive, but insisted Cambodia is MERS-free.