The Ministry of Health has issued a directive on the treatment of people who have tested positive for the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, following a suggestion from Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of January 21. The directive permits home quarantine for those who test positive for Omicron.

According to the directive, inbound passengers who have had at least two Covid-19 vaccine doses must take a rapid test. If the result is negative, they are free to travel in Cambodia.

Should their rapid test result be positive for the Covid-19, a specimen will be taken for a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and will undergo virus sequencing. The individual must quarantine for 14 days.

The ministry permits foreign nationals who enter Cambodia and are found to be positive to self-isolate at hotels, a residence prepared by their embassy, or other setting, with no enforced hospitalisation.

Cambodian nationals, both inside the country and returning from abroad, can also isolate at homes, while following the ministry’s standard operating procedures (SOP) introduced for the Alpha and Delta variants.

“If there is are serious symptoms or the patient feels there is a risk to their health, the patient may choose to seek treatment at an authorised state or private treatment facility,” the directive said.

The ministry will also permit all Omicron patients to leave hospitals or treatment facilities and continue their treatment at home from the night of January 21. Once home, they must isolate themselves from family members and follow the SOP. Local authorities will monitor the patients.

The new decision supersedes a restriction on home care for patients infected with Omicron that was issued by the prime minister early this month due to concerns about the variants increased transmissibility.

In a special audio message addressed to the health ministry and relevant authorities, the premier said Omicron was “not as dangerous” as other strains such as Delta or Alpha.

“All patients are now free to choose a suitable place to quarantine, and should only seek treatment at state hospitals if they cannot find an appropriate location.

“There is no requirement for anyone to be admitted to hospital for treatment, as was previously done,” Hun Sen said, stressing that the decision should not be interpreted as an invitation for Covid-positive patients to travel freely.

The health ministry on January 23 reported 26 new Covid-19 cases, five of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant.