Minister of Interior Sar Kheng has instructed authorities in charge of correctional facilities throughout the country to take action to prevent further transmission of Covid-19 to prison guards and detainees, and to increase security and safety there.

In a notification letter on taking measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in prisons on June 9, the minister said: “Covid-19 has been transmitted in facilities because prison guards and detainees were infected with the virus.”

Sar Kheng urged municipal and provincial governors to cooperate with health departments and relevant institutions to support correctional facilities and treat infected people.

Correctional centres where people have not yet been infected have to strengthen health measures and regularly clean the workplace and use other preventative measures, he said.

People who want to enter or leave these places have to have health checks in accordance with established guidelines to prevent transmission.

“In case there is an infection in any correctional centre or prison, the municipal and provincial governors must cooperate to respond and report immediately to the interior ministry,” he said.

In Kampong Speu province, governor Vei Samnang told The Post that the provincial administration has sent specialised healthcare workers, medical equipment and medicine to treat prison officials and detainees. Testing has revealed positive Covid-19 cases but they are gradually getting better.

“In addition to expediting vaccinations and providing food to workers, the provincial administration has also provided medical treatment to prison officers and detainees by sending medical staff and medicine. Detainees who are Covid-19 positive are isolated,” he said.

According to Samnang, since the beginning of June more than 100 out of 1,802 inmates have been infected with Covid-19. A 66-year-old female detainee has died.

In Kandal province, governor Kong Sophoan said three provincial prison officers were found to be infected with Covid-19 but have recovered. Detainees who were infected have also gradually recovered.

“The Covid-19 epidemic has been brought under control in our correctional centres and we are continuing to assist in screening, treatment and providing food to detainees to help improve their health. Covid-19 patients are separated from other detainees,” he said.

Sophoan did not specify the exact number of Covid-19 detainees in Kandal provincial prison. “There are a considerable number but we can control and treat them, there are no more outbreaks.”

General Department of Prisons spokesman Nuth Savna said correctional centres in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kandal, Kampong Speu and Preah Sihanouk experienced an outbreak of Covid-19. Pailin and Svay Rieng provinces only had some prison officers infected with Covid-19 without spreading the virus to prisons.

“Currently, some of the prison officers and detainees have recovered, while others are undergoing treatment and quarantine in their camp, unit or prison cells,” he said.