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Community transmission cases rise to 43: ministry

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Authorities block a road to Koh Pich Island in Phnom Penh on Saturday, February 20, following the discovery of 32 new cases of Covid-19 in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Community transmission cases rise to 43: ministry

The Ministry of Health said 43 people had tested positive for Covid-19 as of February 21, in a third, massive local transmission which Prime Minister Hun Sen has dubbed the “February 20 Community Event”.

Hun Sen first announced the discovery of the new infections the previous day, referring to it as the third such outbreak and the largest number ever recorded in a single incident in the country.

“This is a critical moment for us, at a time when we are striving to fight against Covid-19 imported from Vietnam and Thailand. We have done well at the borders, having arrested 31 migrant-brokers,” he said during the February 20 televised address.

In a press release, the ministry noted that the 43 new cases comprised 41 Chinese and two Vietnamese nationals. Spokeswoman Or Vandine said public cooperation will be needed to curb further spread of the virus.

“Our compatriots must abide by the three preventive measures including wearing a mask, washing hands, and keeping 1.5m of physical distance. We must avoid crowded places, enclosed areas without ventilation and physical contact including shaking hands,” she said.

Vandine urged those involved in the February 20 Community Event to take a Covid-19 test at the Chak Angre Krom Health Centre in Chak Angre Krom commune of Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district and submit to 14-day quarantine.

Meanwhile, health minister Mam Bun Heng released on February 20 a QR code with the slogan “Stop Covid-19” as part of efforts purported to improve contract tracing in light of the outbreak.

He said the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications had developed the system which will require members of the public to scan the QR Code when they travel about, including entering and exiting hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, pubs, entertainment venues, apartments and condominiums, companies and factories, and other situations in which crowds will congregate.

“This system will record the location of the person who logged in and make it easier to conduct contract tracing and track down people if Covid-19 is found at those places,” Bun Heng said.

Separately on February 21, Hun Sen announced additional provisions for five border provinces to support their quarantine facilities.

Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey, Pailin and Koh Kong provinces will receive thousands of kits containing mats, mosquito nets, blankets and pillows, among other items, as well as thousands of cases of drinking water and instant noodles.

Speaking at a press conference about revisions to Sub-decree No 129 regarding preventative and responsive health measures at international points of entry on February 19, Bun Heng declared that the government had so far provided 9.485 billion riel ($2.3 million) to supply and equip the seven provinces along the Thai border.

He said that as of February 18, approximately 38,944 Cambodian workers had returned from Thailand, and 11,792 remained in quarantine. In the provinces along the Vietnamese border, 242 people were in quarantine.

The latest infections bring the Kingdom’s Covid-19 tally to 533, with 60 currently hospitalised for treatment.

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