The Ministry of Health on Wednesday asked the public to be on “high alert” as a new virus wreaks havoc across Asia. However, no cases have been reported in the Kingdom thus far.
The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has raised the alarm for its similarity to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars), which 18 years ago killed nearly 650 people across China.
In China, where the 2019-nCoV outbreak began last month, the virus has infected 440 people. Cases have also been reported in the US, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Macau, reported AFP.
Minister of Health Mam Bunheng told Cambodians in a statement to take all possible precautions, including avoiding travel to the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.
“We would like to remind all of our Cambodian compatriots to stay away from ill or dead livestock, and to avoid travelling to Wuhan, particularly to the [Huanan] seafood market, farms that sell live animals or wildlife, and other places where cases of the virus have been reported. Don’t go near infected people,” Bunheng warned.
Ministry of Health spokesman Ly Sovann said on Wednesday that there were 445 confirmed cases of the virus, mostly in China, and that nine people had died.
There have been 30 instances of people completely recovering from the virus after treatment, he said.
The illness is mainly transmitted via the respiratory tract and can be transmitted through human contact, the ministry’s statement said. The public has been told to be particularly careful if they choose to travel during Chinese New Year.
“There are no cases of the virus in Cambodia yet, but we ask everyone to remain vigilant and take good care of themselves,” the ministry said.
Ministry of Health spokesman Or Vandine said anyone that suspects they could be infected should call the emergency services (115), particularly if they have travelled to China in the last 14 days or had had contact with an infected animal or person.
Symptoms of the disease include high body temperature (above 38 Celsius), runny nose, sore throat and shortness of breath.
“If you think you may have pneumonia caused by 2019-nCoV, you should seek treatment immediately at the state health institutions closest to you,” Vandine said.
The Ministry of Health said it had installed screening equipment at the airports in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville, and at border crossings in Bavet, Poipet, and Kampot’s Prek Chak.
Quarantine teams have been dispatched to the Kingdom’s three international airports and rooms have been set aside for infected individuals at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital and provincial referral hospitals in Preah Sihanouk and Siem Reap.
The equipment and medicine necessary to treat the disease are ready if needed, the ministry said.
Cambodia has laboratories to test for the virus, and 2,000 health officials trained to treat an infection, the Ministry stressed.
In Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, authorities cancelled large public events, called on visitors to stay away and urged residents not to leave the central Chinese city of 11 million people, AFP reported on Wednesday.
China’s National Health Commission vice-minister Li Bin told a news conference in Beijing that 1,394 people are still under medical observation, while 765 others have been discharged.
The Chinese government has classified the outbreak in the same category as the Sars epidemic, meaning compulsory isolation for those diagnosed with the illness and the potential to implement quarantine measures.
But it still has not been able to identify the exact source of the virus.