As the number of daily Covid-19 transmissions and deaths remain above 900 and 20 respectively, the proportion of patients opting to be treated at home for mild cases has increased significantly.
Over 1,000 Covid-19 patients with mild or no symptoms are now undergoing home-based treatment, which has been permitted only for Phnom Penh residents.
Ngy Mean Heng, director of the Phnom Penh municipal Department of Health, said on July 12 during a press conference that since the standard operating procedures (SOP) for home-based treatment were issued by the Ministry of Health in late April, up to 1,301 patients have received treatment at home, with 268 of them having recovered so far.
He said there are 226 home-based patients in Sen Sok district; 132 in Meanchey; 118 in Por Sen Chey; 98 in Boeung Keng Kang; 89 in Dangkor; 65 in Russey Keo; 58 in Chbar Ampov; 54 in Daun Penh; 53 in Chamkarmon; 39 in Tuol Kork; 34 in Kamboul; 30 in Chroy Changvar and a handful of others in Prek Pnov.
Health ministry secretary of state Ngov Kang said Kandal province will be the second to permit home-based treatment after Phnom Penh. Some other provinces may also decide to permit the practice when necessary.
“Health minister [Mam Bun Heng] will discuss the matter with the governor of each province to see if they are in need of home-based treatment due to the limited space at hospitals which must be reserved for patients in critical condition,” Kang said.
According to Kang, the health ministry and the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration will only allow mildly ill patients to be treated at home after they have checked their health and evaluated their living situation.
“Those who can get permission to treat the disease at home need to be in good condition and able to survive by themselves in terms of their livelihoods. If their house is too small or crowded, home-based treatment is not allowed because they can spread disease to neighbours,” he said.
“Treatment at home is on a voluntary basis. We don’t force anyone to get treatment at home, but we make sure that they are not poor and can support themselves while doing so,” he said.
Phnom Penh municipal deputy governor Keut Che, who attended the conference, appealed to the public not to distort the purpose of this policy by claiming that only rich people are permitted to get treatment at home because spreading such views would disrupt the government’s effort to fight the disease.
“I want to stress that treatment at home is not about whether someone is rich or middle-class or poor. What is important is whether the conditions at their home are right for them. If they meet all the requirements but they will experience hardship during home treatment, the authorities will bring them food. But they have to meet the necessary conditions,” he said.
Che explained that if a mildly ill patient lives alone in a rental unit with its own bathroom but lacks food while convalescing, then the authorities will provide food aid during their treatment.
Kang of the health ministry said that mildly ill Covid-19 patients referred to those who test positive for the disease with temperatures at or below 37.5 degrees with a normal respiration rate for an adult at rest of between 14 and 20 breaths per minute and are generally in good condition and able to eat and work as normal.
Most home-based patients will be adults because, according to Kang, Cambodia has a low rate of transmission in children. Only around one per cent of the nearly 62,000 patients in Cambodia have been children.
Similar to the situation in other countries, most of them have very mild illnesses with the only symptom often being a slightly asthmatic condition.
On July 12, the health ministry reported 911 Covid-19 cases, 319 of which were imported, bringing the total to 61,870 with 925 fatalities.