In the wake of the world’s deadliest Ebola epidemic, efforts to prevent the spread of the disease into Cambodia are continuing, with scanners installed at four major entry points and training scheduled for clinicians across the country.
Thermal body scanners which detect high fevers – one of the symptoms of Ebola – have been installed since August in Cambodia’s two international airports in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and at the two main land crossings in Bavet and Poipet.
Passengers flying into the country are also required to fill a form about their health and their prior places of stay, said Ly Sovann, chief of the Health Ministry’s Communicable Disease Control Department.
“They put their email and phone number on there so it’s easy to find someone if [they get sick],” Sovann explained.
He said that the thermal scanners are applied regardless of nationality, but that people travelling from Africa, the Middle East and China will face extra scrutiny.
“It’s not just Ebola; we are also scanning for diseases like MERS [Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome] and bird flu,” Sovann said, clarifying why people travelling from the Middle East and China would also be further examined.
Sovann said that no person entering the country has been detected with Ebola, which has killed more than 2,100 in four West African countries since the outbreak started .
Despite the added measures, the risk of Ebola making it to Cambodia is “very low”, said WHO communications officer Vicky Houssiere, because the disease is only transmitted through direct contact and is not airborne.
Houssiere said the government’s measures, which have been coordinated with the WHO, have “reduced an already low risk”, adding that clinicians across four provinces at the end of the month will be trained by the Ministry of Health in infection, prevention, and control of the disease.
Concerns that expatriate Nigerians, whose country has been affected by the outbreak, would be stopped at the airport because of their nationality, are unfounded, said Houssiere.
“It’s really about trying to trace where you’ve been, not your nationality.”
The president of the Nigerian in Diaspora Organization of Cambodia (NIDO), Austin Koledoye, who said he is in close contact with Cambodian immigration officials, told the Post he flew in from Europe on Saturday and faced no problems at the airport, nor have fellow nationals, to his knowledge.