The Ministry of Health, the World Health Organisation in Cambodia (WHO) and Institut Pasteur du Cambodge (IPC) on Monday held a joint press conference to reiterate that they are fully prepared for all eventualities in facing the global outbreak of Covid-19.
They said that although there had been 135 suspected cases tested so far, all had come back negative, with the only exception being the Chinese man who tested positive in January, who shortly afterwards departed Cambodia.
Minister of Health, Mam Bun Heng said “until now, we have not had an outbreak of Covid-19. But, we are always prepared to respond to any possible case, and are dedicated to its prevention.
“We plan to further train medical staff in local areas and continue to disseminate information on personal hygiene and awareness to the people. The ministry has also prepared systems at our three international airports to test passengers passing through,” he said.
Bun Heng said the training would commence at the Ministry of National Defence and with the National Police for their officials to learn about and take part in helping identify possible cases.
Medical equipment has also been prepared to prevent the spread of the disease, such as appropriate medical attire and equipment to aid the transportation of patients.
He said while Cambodia could not build hospitals for patients everywhere, it had plans in place to expand facilities for them at hospitals in 10 provinces.
Ministry of Health spokesperson, Or Vandine, said as of Monday, a total of 135 people in the Kingdom, both foreigners and Khmer, were suspected of contracting Covid-19.
The total tested by the ministry and all stakeholders was 1,760 cases, and all tests had come back negative, she said, reiterating that citizens should not test for the virus if they do not have symptoms, as the Ministry of Health had advised.
WHO director in Cambodia Li Ailan praised the Kingdom for its response to suspected cases and how the case of the infected Chinese man was handled.
However, she said that in the future, there will still be more work to do.
“WHO is pleased to work with the Ministry of Health and partners to prepare for all scenarios, including the potential outbreak of Covid-19, within Cambodia.
She confirmed that WHO will help Cambodia and stakeholders to respond to Covid-19.
IPC director Laurence Baril said at the press conference that the institute had also prepared a laboratory
to test suspected patients.
Bun Heng requested that journalists help disseminate correct information about the virus and address fake news that was aimed at attacking the ministry.
He also said Cambodia had no reason to conceal cases or information surrounding Covid-19 from the public, as some Facebook users had alleged.
“The IPC has operated with transparency, as does our health system. We have made efforts to do whatever we can to provide relevant information regarding the coronavirus.
“We have no reason to hide it. If a person gets sick, we care for them and treat him or her. We don’t have a reason to hide such matters.
“Hiding the truth from people is not useful because people need to know how to prevent themselves from getting the disease, identify symptoms they may have and seek treatment should they need it,” he said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday appealed to the people to take part in the fight against fake news and to take preventive measures against the coronavirus by ensuring personal hygiene.