Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng said on Wednesday that the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) can be transmitted between people, but it is unlikely it will spread here given Cambodia’s hot climate.
Speaking to The Post, Bun Heng said the coronavirus cannot survive in temperatures higher than 30C, and hence, people-to-people infections are unlikely here.
For the virus to spread in Cambodia, the person would have to come into very close contact with a carrier without wearing any protective gear.
“The virus lives in mucus. It can be transmitted from one person to another, so we still have to be careful,” he stressed, adding that no new incidents of infection have been reported in the Kingdom.
On Monday, the government reported Cambodia’s first and, so far, only case. Jia Jianhua, 60, tested positive when he checked into a hospital in Sihanoukville with flu-like symptoms.
He had landed in Sihanoukville aboard a flight on January 23 from Wuhan city, where the pandemic started.
Bun Heng said that Jia is being treated at a local hospital and is in good condition. He will be in isolation for 14 days, and after that, the ministry will decide if he can be discharged.
Chim Pheaktra, a former employee at Pasteur Institute, told The Post on Wednesday that wearing a mask does not protect one completely against the virus given its size.
The virus is about 0.125 micrometres in size, which is smaller than bacteria.
Moreover, Pheaktra said Cambodians don’t need to wear a mask because temperatures here do not allow the virus to survive.
He said the virus only thrives in temperatures below 20C. In hotter climates, it can only be transmitted when a person comes into very close contact (less than 1m) with a carrier without wearing any protective gear.
“Infections are unlikely here because our country is just too hot. Only one case has been reported so far in the Kingdom, so people that are not living in areas where the virus has been reported don’t need to wear a mask.”
The Ministry of Health recently issued a statement instructing citizens to avoid close contact with patients suffering from infections of the respiratory tract or who have visited the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan city.
The ministry also asked people to wash their hands after touching animals and to cook meat and eggs thoroughly before consuming it. It told the public to cover their nostrils and mouth with a krama, handkerchief or tissue when coughing or sneezing.
The ministry asked people to avoid touching the face after touching animals, animal products, substandard meat, animal droppings or animal body fluids in markets. It also asked people to avoid spitting in public places.
Additionally, people must use different cutting boards and knives for raw and cooked foods and clean their hands after touching food, kitchen equipment or coming into contact with places that sell live animals. Everyone must wash their hands at least once a day.
If you have a fever of 38C or higher and one of these symptoms – coughing, runny nose, sore throat, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing; and if you have travelled to China recently, you must immediately call the emergency number at 115.
The Ministry of Health said seniors and those suffering from conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease are at higher risk if they contract the virus.