Institut Pasteur du Cambodge (IPC) has declared it is fully committed to working with the Ministry of Health to combat Covid-19.

In a statement released on Tuesday, IPC director Dr Laurence Baril said it had maintained BLS-3-level biosafety while administering all diagnostic tests in accordance with WHO interim guidance and had implemented, validated and ensured full diagnostic capacity to identify and respond to Covid-19.

He said IPC was working closely with the Cambodian Centre for Disease Control (CDC) to ensure all nasal and throat swab samples it received are processed accordingly and in a timely manner.

“All samples have been tested to the highest standards, and any suspected cases have been tested multiple times to ensure validity,” they said.

With a request from the Ministry of Health, Baril said IPC recently tested 1,580 passengers from the MS Westerdam cruise ship and all were found negative of Covid-19.

Thirty-six other samples from the World Dream cruise ship and 41 samples of Cambodian students studying in China were also tested, all were found negative for the virus.

“As of February 25, the Cambodian CDC/IPC notification alert system has received 55 notifications (61 samples) of suspected cases and eight close contacts (11 samples), all testing negative.

“The case involving a traveller from Wuhan who visited Cambodia was retested in late January, and also found to be negative,” he said.

He said that the IPC would continue to offer support and to work closely with Cambodian CDC and the ministry.

“While we continue to receive and test suspected cases of Covid-19 in Cambodia, we are also increasing our own diagnostic capacity and strengthening our collaborative working partnerships with the National Institute of Public Health Laboratory and the Ministry of Health.

“IPC is happy to contribute to and support the response and prevention of Covid-19 throughout Cambodia, the Southeast Asia region and the globe,” he said.

Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng on Tuesday wrote a letter calling on all city and provincial councils to increase dissemination of preventive measures against Covid-19 in their communities.

He said the ministry has also instructed health departments in the capital and provinces to produce educational messages regarding the disease.

“In addition to this, I would like Your Excellency chairperson of the city and provincial councils to strengthen and support the continuous flow of this information, and to spread these preventive measures against Covid-19 to all people in your villages, communes, districts, and province,” Bun Heng said in the letter.

Meanwhile, Holland America Line Inc, the company overseeing MS Westerdam that docked in Preah Sihanouk province on February 12, said on Wednesday that all passengers and employees were now home. The company thanked all those involved in allowing that to happen.

“Holland America Line sincerely thanks Cambodia’s Honorable Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Cambodian Ministry of Health and all those in Cambodia who have worked so hard to get our guests home and provide clearance for our crew,” it tweeted on Wednesday.