Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandin said on Monday that Cambodia had not received any official confirmation from Vietnam that one of its citizens had contracted the novel coronavirus while staying in the Kingdom.
Vandine said the ministry is paying close attention to the issue following a Vietnamese newspaper report that the man got infected before returning to Vietnam from Siem Reap province.
However, she insisted that the Kingdom had found no other Covid-19 cases besides the 122 patients who had all fully recovered.
“We haven’t heard from Vietnam. If there is any new Covid-19 case, the ministry will inform the public,” she said.
The VnExpress online newspaper reported on Saturday that four Vietnamese nationals returning from overseas tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 318.
It said one of the four – a 39-year-old from Tan Chau district in the southeastern province of Tay Ninh which borders Cambodia – travelled by bus from his hometown to Siem Reap on January 10 and returned to Vietnam illegally on May 2 as the borders remained closed amid the pandemic.
It said the man took a motor-taxi from the Cambodian border to his mother’s home in Tan Chau. He then reported to local police about his return and was isolated for a Covid-19 test on May 3.
His results came out negative on May 5, but he tested positive after a second test on Friday.
The report came the same day Cambodia announced that its last Covid-19 patient had been discharged from hospital.
Vandine said it was too early to assume the Vietnamese man had contracted the virus in Cambodia as the contagious disease can spread anytime and anywhere, especially when an individual or group travelled from one place to another.
“I wish to stress that it cannot be assumed the man contracted the virus in Cambodia. Before reportedly testing positive, he had already been in Vietnam for 14 days,” she said.
Cambodian government spokesperson Phay Siphan said a newspaper report is generally a “clue”.
“Between nation and nation, only information received through cooperation between the Cambodian Ministry of Health and our Vietnamese counterpart is official. Governments give official information, but journalists only give clues,” he said.
Early last month, Prime Minister Hun Sen took issue with the Vietnam News Agency (VNA), which he said had published “bad news” about Cambodia by placing it among other European countries that could pose Covid-19 risks to Vietnam.
Siem Reap city governor Nuon Putheara said he was not sure what the Vietnamese man came to Siem Reap for, and referred reporters to the provincial health department.
Provincial health department director Kros Sarath said the Vietnamese man most likely contracted the virus in Vietnam.
“He tested negative on May 4 and had not been confirmed Covid-19 positive until May 15, nearly two weeks after returning to Vietnam. So we suspect he got infected in his home country,” he said.