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Cruise ships dock, 34 depart

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Tourist boats entering into Phnom Penh Port near Chroy Changvar Bridge on March 18. Heng Chivoan

Cruise ships dock, 34 depart

Passengers of five cruise ships which were allowed to enter Cambodia after being rejected by Vietnamese authorities for fear they may have contracted the new coronavirus have either left the Kingdom on Wednesday or will do so on Thursday.

Phan Soben, the tour company representative for the cruise ships said 34 passengers had departed the Kingdom after having returned to Phnom Penh on Wednesday. Another 41 would depart on Thursday, he said.

He said the passengers who departed on Wednesday were Danish, while the others were from France, the US, Switzerland, and Canada. Cambodian health officials, he said, had checked them tree times and found that they were free of Covid-19.

The Kandal provincial administration said on Tuesday the five cruise ships with 200 on board – 77 tourists and 123 crew, were allowed to return to Cambodia after being rejected docking rights by Vietnamese authorities. The ships arrived in Phnom Penh on Wednesday.

Several countries have shut their borders, banning the entry of nationals from some countries, out of fear they carried the novel coronavirus.

Cambodia has also warned its people from travelling to the US, Iran, and Europe, and banned the entry of Italian, French, German, Spanish, US and Iranian nationals.

On Wednesday, officials said that Cambodia might extend the visa of international tourists who faced problems in returning to their home countries due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

“We are thinking about this. If their visa has expired, we can extend it for them as otherwise, they would be illegal [immigrants],” said the General Department of Immigration spokesman Keo Vanthan.

But he said he had not received any report from his officials of tourists who found themselves stuck in Cambodia.

Sin Chan Sereyvutha, the Secretariat of Civil Aviation spokesman said on Wednesday that Cambodia had not banned any foreigner from leaving the Kingdom.

“If their countries or where they live are banning their entry, that has nothing to do with Cambodia. We cannot help them in that respect, but we can help by extending their visa. That’s all we can do.

“For example, if their visa is valid just for two weeks, we can extend it to a month out of humanitarian reasons and understanding the global Covid-19 situation,” he said.

He also urged all airlines to understand their customers’ difficulty and urged them to accommodate any changes in flight arrangements as per request from affected passengers.

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