Prime Minister Hun Sen said on December 15 that although Cambodia had apparently managed to contain the community transmission of Covid-19 from November 28, it cannot yet definitively declare an end to the incident primarily because more time is needed to do a thorough contact tracing.

Hun Sen made the statement from his residence in Kandal province’s Takhmao town on December 15 as part of his address to the nation about the Covid-19 situation and the first-phase purchase of one million doses of Covid-19 vaccine.

He said there were five main reasons that prevented him from announcing with complete certainty an end to the November 28 community incident – a reference to the first confirmed case of local transmission.

One reason, related to the contact tracing process, was that it was not yet completely known where all the Covid-19 patients may have visited over the period of 14 days before they were confirmed to have the virus and that it was also possible that some of them may have forgotten about some of the places they had been over those two weeks.

He also said that sometimes people that are in direct or indirect contact do not come forward with this information due to a fear of testing positive and that some people who had admitted to having been in contact with an infected person have yet to test a second or third time to confirm that they had not been infected.

Additionally, those who have been kept in quarantine from November 29 to December 14 still need to test negative a third time in order to be released.

Finally, the prime minister questioned whether there were those who had been in contact with the November 28 Covid-19 patients – particularly in the provinces they had visited before they were confirmed to have the virus – who were yet to be identified.

“I would like to announce that the November 28 event is now under control. But I cannot yet declare it has ended. Citizens, please continue to maintain [heightened precautions] for the safety of all.

“The announcement of an end to the event can be made after January 20,” he said.

Hun Sen also called on citizens to continue to carry out preventive measures such as tracking people who do not quarantine according to Covid-19 guidelines.

He reminded Cambodians of the pandemic “DO’s” such as wear masks, wash hands; and maintain social and physical distancing of over 1.5m.

He also reiterated the coronavirus “DON’T’S”, advising people against visiting unventilated indoor places with air-conditioning and no fresh air, going to overcrowded places, touching each other, shaking hands, standing near each other or hugging each other.

He asked that markets and other public places take people’s temperatures before entry, require the wearing of masks, allow for maintaining distance between people, and practice good hygiene.

Hun Sen also instructed capital and provincial authorities to temporarily close any business that fails to carry out the measures recommended by the Ministry of Health.

Hun Sen also said that he and his government have been preparing in advance for 2021 and the years ahead, including preparations for any possible incidents of large scale community transmission. He said that widespread community transmission must not be allowed to happen.

He called for more health centres to be created to aid in the prevention of any further community transmission events and he said that health centres have to cooperate with private hospitals to train and strengthen the capacity of Cambodian doctors generally.

He also mentioned that laboratories in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Preah Sihanouk and Battambang provinces are to be expanded and that laboratory doctors and technicians are to be supplied with better equipment.

Finally, they will have to prepare quarantine facilities sufficient for a widespread outbreak should one occur and be prepared to enforce quarantine procedures and to treat any breach of quarantine with the utmost seriousness.

Regarding the November 28 community incident, the health ministry announced that three more Covid-19 patients had recovered.

The first is a 57-year-old Cambodian man who lives in the Borey Peng Huoth gated community on Hun Sen Blvd in Phnom Penh. He is the director-general of General Department of Prisons under the Ministry of Interior.

The second is a 30-year-old Cambodian woman living in Nirouth commune in Phnom Penh’s Chbar Ampov district. She is a family member of the driver of the prisons director-general.

The third is a 34-year-old woman who also lives in Nirouth commune. She worked at the interior ministry and had been in contact with the prisons director-general.

All three have been discharged from hospital.

Hun Sen said that from January up until now, 250,000 people had been tested for Covid-19 and that this is one of the highest per-capita rates of testing for any country. He also advised the health ministry to further improve its contact tracing.

On December 15, the health ministry confirmed one case of community transmission and two imported cases.

The local transmission case is the one-year-old son of the 30-year-old woman from Chbar Ampov district’s Nirouth commune. Her son was possibly exposed during the November 28 community incident.

One of the two imported cases is a 66-year-old Cambodian-American woman who arrived in Cambodia from the US via South Korea on December 13. She has been admitted to the Chak Angre Health Centre in Phnom Penh.

There were 104 passengers onboard travelling alongside her but they all tested negative. They are being kept in quarantine for 14 days at two separate hotels and at the US embassy in Phnom Penh.

The second imported case is a 34-year-old Japanese woman who arrived in Cambodia from Japan via South Korea on December 13.

There were 64 passengers onboard travelling alongside her but they have all tested negative. They are all being kept in quarantine at two separate hotels in the capital.

As of December 15, Cambodia had recorded a total of 362 cases, with 312 recoveries.