With the new coronavirus claiming its 17th life in China, the Cambodian Ministry of Health on Thursday said it is taking measures to ensure the disease does not enter the Kingdom, including inspecting all flights from Wuhan City, the outbreak’s epicentre.
Ministry secretary of state and spokeswoman Or Vandin said during a press conference that there are no reported cases of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Cambodia, but that the government continues to monitor the situation and prepare for any sign of its presence in the Kingdom.
“We have strengthened measure at our international airports in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk and installed screening equipment. Officials are inspecting travellers, especially those coming from Wuhan city,” she said.
“If any case of illness in Cambodia arouses suspicion, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has agreed to take part in its examination and assessment to avoid any outbreak,” she said.
Vandin said death from the virus is not caused by pneumonia alone. A study by the WHO and the Asean Secretariat indicated that those that had succumbed to the virus had a weakened immune system. They had all recently travelled to Wuhan City.
Civil Aviation spokesman Sin Chansereyvutha told The Post on Thursday that two airlines − both Chinese-owned − operate flights between the Kingdom and Wuhan City.
“There are only five or six flights to Wuhan a week. Wuhan is the epicentre of the disease so we are especially careful with these flights,” he said.
He said the authorities were inspecting all flights landing in Cambodia, regardless of origin.
“We have installed screening equipment to measure the body temperature of passengers and have prepared special rooms to examine people that may be infected. We are being very careful,” he said.
A WHO report released by the Ministry of Health said as of Thursday morning, 571 cases had been reported in China, 95 of which were serious. Seventeen people had died from it.
On Wednesday, China’s Macao Special Administrative Region announced its first confirmed case.
The same day, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen urged the public to stay calm. She called on Beijing to exercise due diligence in information transparency, as both countries head to Chinese New Year vacations.
Taiwanese and Chinese travel extensively during Chinese New Year as it is tradition that families reunite and celebrate together. It has been called the largest annual human migration in the world. Concerns arouse that this mass movement will exacerbate the spread of the disease.
Meanwhile, in Thailand, three Chinese and one Thai were diagnosed with carrying the new coronavirus and quarantined, The Nation reported.
The Philippines’s Department of Health on Tuesday said it was investigating whether the novel coronavirus had infected a five-year-old Chinese boy who was already sick when he arrived in the country from Wuhan more than a week ago.
The boy could have one of the four other strains of coronavirus, or a totally new strain, Dr Ferchito Avelino, director of the Epidemiology Bureau, said.