Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kingdom bracing for MERS after Thai case

Kingdom bracing for MERS after Thai case

A Thai man carries his child past an information banner on MERS
A Thai man carries his child past an information banner on MERS at the entrance of Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute on Friday. AFP

Kingdom bracing for MERS after Thai case

In response to the deadly outbreak of the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in South Korea and a recent confirmed case in neighbouring Thailand, officials said yesterday that they are issuing updated health declaration forms and tightening health checks at Cambodian border checkpoints.

The virus, which was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and typically leads to symptoms such as fever and shortness of breath, has spread to South Korea where it has killed 25 people, according to AFP. On Friday, the WHO confirmed in a statement that they detected the first reported MERS case in Thailand in a male traveller from Oman.

Given Cambodia’s close proximity to Thailand and South Korea, Communicable Disease Control (CDC) Department Deputy Director Dr Bun Sreng said that they are taking the matter “very seriously”.

“Cambodians are at risk because there are many entry points from Thailand to Cambodia and we have direct flights from South Korea to Phnom Penh or Siem Reap,” Sreng said.

According to Sreng, new health declaration forms, filled upon entry to the Kingdom, will be released in the coming weeks with a question on whether travellers have visited South Korea in the last 21 days.

The Health Ministry is also acquiring four more thermoscanners, which detect whether individuals have a fever upon entering the country. Currently, Cambodia has one working thermoscanner in Siem Reap airport, while temperature checks are done manually in the Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville airports and Poipet and Bavet land crossings, Sreng said.

The ministry has trained health professionals on infection prevention response since 2012, but, Sreng added, additional training will be conducted in public hospitals like Calmette Hospital next week.

“They are getting prepared and that’s clear,” said WHO Cambodia communications officer Vicky Houssiere. “The CDC has been working more vigilantly with air force authority and instructing quarantine officers and rapid response teams to be ready.”

Cambodia has yet to meet the WHO-set regulations for preparedness and response to new emerging diseases, but with limited resources, Sreng said, they’re “doing the best [they] can”.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KHOUTH SOPHAK CHAKRYA

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,