Eighteen inmates in the men's section of Prey Sar prison's M1 centre tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to an official.

The discovery prompted the prison director to request Phnom Penh Municipal Court to postpone upcoming hearings and other proceedings that would require Prey Sar inmates to appear before the court.

In a letter dated May 20 and reviewed by The Post, the director asserted that the cases were linked to the February 20 community outbreak, but did not detail how the contagion made its way to the prison, which houses over 10,000 inmates.

“The detention centre is taking action to prevent the spread of the disease and track down those who have been exposed to it, in order to take samples for tests,” the letter said.

General Department of Prisons spokesman Nuth Savna said the 18 coronavirus-positive inmates had been placed in separate rooms.

“We are taking samples from the people who have had contact with them and are searching for the source of the transmission, seeing that those who contracted the disease have been in the centre all along,” Savna said.

On May 8, Preah Sihanouk provincial prison also reported 34 cases found among detainees.