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No more Africa travel ban but new rules for arrivals

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Passenger plane prepares to land at Phnom Penh International Airport. Hong Menea

No more Africa travel ban but new rules for arrivals

The Ministry of Health has decided to lift the ban on travellers from or who have travelled through 10 African countries and instead issued a set of standard operating procedures to manage passenger arrivals at Cambodia’s international airports.

The 10 African countries are Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Angola and Zambia. The ban was put in place due to initial alarm at the discovery of the new Omicron variant, which is believed to have originated in that region.

Health minister Mam Bun Heng announced that the ban would be lifted on the night of December 5, stating that the measures would be replaced by additional implementation of procedures to manage passengers arriving at international airports in Cambodia.

Speaking at the opening ceremony for National Road 11 that connect Prey Veng to Tbong Khmum provinces on December 6, Prime Minister Hun Sen also called on the public to continue to follow the preventive measures to protect themselves from Covid-19 although the number of infections in Cambodia has decreased significantly.

“The three dos and three don’ts – even if Omicron arrives – will still protect us. We have been panicking since the World Health Organisation [WHO] announced the new variant but there have been no deaths from Omicron so far, only deaths from the Delta and Alpha variants,” he said.

“For this reason, we decided yesterday that we would lift the ban on travellers from Africa, but we will continue to strengthen the testing and quarantine protocols in our country,” he said.

According to the procedures to manage passengers arriving at the international airports in Cambodia issued on December 6, passengers who are Cambodian or foreign must show documents such as a full Covid-19 vaccination certificate and paperwork confirming a negative Covid-19 test result via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing within 72 hours prior to arriving in Cambodia, as well as a general declaration of the passenger’s health status.

The procedures also state that foreign passengers must also have a health insurance policy for Covid-19 and a hotel reservation for a 14 day quarantine period if they are not vaccinated.

Passengers who test positive for Covid-19 when taking the rapid antigen test on arrival will be PCR tested and sent to a quarantine location designated by the health ministry.

If the PCR test results are positive but the patient has no symptoms or has mild symptoms, they may request treatment at home or at a place of residence and the patient pays for the entire treatment.

“For Cambodians, Covid-19 treatment in public hospitals is the responsibility of the Royal Government of Cambodia, while for foreigners, all expenses related to accommodations and treatment will be the responsibility of their insurance company or the patient,” the procedures state.

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