The Ministry of Health has announced that it will allow private health service providers to treat mild Covid-19 patients at their homes as long as they strictly adhere to the guidelines.

In a statement addressed to all interested private health establishments on August 30, it said they must first be registered with the ministry in order to qualify.

“The private establishments must have nurses and medical staff who have been trained properly on caring for mild Covid-19 patients at home by the national focal trainers from the health ministry. The Covid-19 nurses must be different staff from regular nurses and they must undergo 14-day quarantine after caring for a patient,” said the statement.

“They must prepare for serious cases by having a transportation system that correctly aligns with the technical standards for transport of patients from their homes to the private hospitals authorised to treat Covid-19 patients or to public hospitals that treat the disease,” it added.

The ministry said the home-based treatment provided by private hospitals and clinics can only be done with permission from the local authorities and the medical officials in each patient’s particular area.

To get permission for the service, private establishments must apply for permission to the health ministry through the technical and treatment sub-commission.

Nok Pich Pichey, general medical practitioner and head of the privately-owned Praseth Phal clinic in Phnom Penh, welcome the move.

He said this shows a mutual trust between the public and private health sectors and would help reduce the burden Covid-19 is placing on public health resources.

“Actually, public hospitals are filled with patients already, not only in our country but also in Thailand and Vietnam and other countries in the region. They are very busy. So it is good that private hospitals can step in and ease these burdens,” he said.

Hoeu Aun, manager of the privately-run Chbar Ampov Clinic in the capital’s Chbar Ampov district, said the conditions set by the ministry were not an issue as they were meant to ensure safety for both medical professionals and patients. She said her clinic was preparing the forms to submit to the ministry to get permission for providing treatment services.

“It’s a good decision because the patients will have another option for treatment. We have to follow the guidelines and I think we can get approval because my clinic already has permission to treat Covid-19 patients on-site at our facility. Now, we’ll just extend our services to homes and it won’t be a problem,” she said.

Separately, the Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities are constructing a facility equipped with 356 beds to treat mild Covid-19 patients. The facility is being built within the compound of the provincial referral hospital.

Provincial administration spokesman Kheang Phearom told The Post on August 30 that the facility’s construction is expected to cost around $700,000 and will be funded by charitable donations.

Phearom said the province currently has five active treatment centres, but most of them are converted guesthouses and hotels.

“That is the reason that we have to construct our own treatment facility. We predict that the disease will not disappear any time soon. That’s why we have to have our own treatment facility to ensure sustainability in providing treatment,” he said.

On August 30, the provincial administration extended thanks to donors for their generous contributions towards the construction of the facility which they expect will be completed in three months.