Mam Bun Heng, minister of health and chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19, requested all municipal and provincial governors across the country to focus efforts to improve control measures at quarantine facilities after a returning migrant worker fled from custody.
Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine explained that on December 24, a Cambodian man returning from Thailand via the Poipet international border checkpoint escaped while he was being transported to a quarantine facility.
“Upon arriving at an entrance gate, he jumped off a truck, and currently police are searching for him,” she said.
Banteay Meanchey Provincial Administration spokesman Sek Sokhom told The Post on December 24 that the provincial authorities had photographed and identified the migrant worker who had fled the quarantine facility.
“Our migrant worker is in his 20s. His home is in Banteay Meanchey province, and he fled the quarantine facility in Poipet town. We are searching for him and will take him for quarantine at the Mongkol Borei Cambodia-Japan Friendship Hospital,” he said.
Sokhom added that since the recent outbreak of Covid-19 in Thailand, 1,000 Cambodian migrant workers had returned through Banteay Meanchey province from December 20 to 24. They had their health checked and were placed in quarantine.
In a press release on December 23, Bun Heng expressed concerns about maintaining control of people placed in quarantine, particularly as the number of people in quarantine could exceed authorities’ capacities to handle them.
He urged governors to “pay closer attention to controlling people in quarantine for 14 days and controlling inbound passengers to Cambodia via all international checkpoints and corridors along the Cambodia-Thailand border most seriously.”
“Individuals must not be allowed to escape quarantine facilities. Authorities must assign police to guard them,” he said.
Bun Heng said that for returning migrants entering the country secretly – without passing through border checkpoints on army trucks – municipal and provincial authorities should instruct district, commune and village authorities to prepare them for quarantine in their homes or other local sites.
In such cases, migrants would not have undergone standard medical and quarantine procedures, so local authorities must diligently monitor and strictly control their movements as well as administer health exams and follow-up checks, he said.
Covid-19 test samples for all returning individuals must be taken for testing at the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, the National Institute of Public Health or the Siem Reap provincial hospital.
Bun Heng warned that individuals who violate quarantine measures will be subjected to penalties in accordance with the law. Failure to adhere to pertinent quarantine rules could result in imposition of fines of 200,000 up to one million riel and criminal prosecution.
On December 24, the ministry reported the recoveries of two more Covid-19 patients.
A 30 year-old Cambodian woman from Chbar Ampov district’s Niroth commune and a 54-year-old Cambodian-American man from Daun Penh district’s Phsar Thmey commune were discharged from treatment after testing negative two times.
The woman is the wife of an official at the Ministry of Interior and was infected in connection with the November 28 community transmission event while the man had recently travelled from China.
Nationwide, only 12 Covid-19 patients remain hospitalised with all others having recovered.