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All inbound flights set to face added scrutiny

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All inbound flights from Malaysia and Indonesia will be temporarily cancelled starting August 1. Heng Chivoan

All inbound flights set to face added scrutiny

Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said on Monday that the ministry is monitoring all inbound flights, after it was announced that only those from Malaysia and Indonesia will be temporarily cancelled from August 1.

Vandine said on Monday that the two countries were identified as most Cambodians who travelled home from the US, France, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Egypt and Mali came through them, and caused a spike in Covid-19 cases.

She was responding to critics who questioned why only flights from Malaysia and Indonesia were temporarily axed but not those from China when an aviation company claimed it had the most flights to Cambodia.

Vandine also said: “Currently, the global pandemic has not yet abated. We observed that a large number of countries didn’t carry out measures to test passengers before allowing them on board planes. So, this is a risk.

“When a passenger is positive for the virus, the plane carrying it and passes it on to other individuals on the aircraft. In other words, it can pass from one country to another and from one area to another.”

She said the temporary cancellation of flights serves to ensure the safety of Cambodians.

“The cancellations serve to mitigate the risk of infections in Cambodia and reduce the possibility of community transmission.

It is difficult for individuals, but it will be even more difficult if infection cases in the country increase,” she said.

In the past, the government suspended six fights from the US, Germany, Italy, Spain and Iran, and Vandine stressed that the ministry was monitoring other flights too with the utmost care.

“Given the actual situation, when we observe infection cases rising, the ministry will have a discussion and propose a request to the head of the government for approval,” she said.

The ministry on Monday confirmed that four Covid-19 patients had recovered, bringing the total to 147 patients recovered among 225 total Covid-19 patients.

She said from January 27 to May 16 this year, Cambodia had cured all 122 Covid-19 patients. Of the number, 83 per cent were imported from abroad and 17 per cent of patients had contracted the virus from those who had imported it from abroad.

She said of the 103 new cases, all were imported from aboard. As of July 27, Cambodia had imported up to 86 cases.

“The detection of cases over the last five days is worrisome for public health. When cases keep spiking, we have to be extremely cautious. When cases surge, it burdens the health system. The use of budget resources for checking and treating those cases also increase drastically,” she said.

Starting from next month, citizens will observe many national holidays. In August, a five-day break is planned for Khmer New Year. The Pchum Ben festival follows in September and the Water Festival will be held in late October.

During the holidays, the Ministry of Health is concerned that Covid-19 could enter communities when citizens take trips to tourist destinations and visit their relatives in their hometowns if measures aren’t implemented first.

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