Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Stranded workers in Malaysia may return

Stranded workers in Malaysia may return

Stranded workers in Malaysia may return

Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng said Cambodia is negotiating with the Malaysian government to return fishermen and some 200 workers, including prisoners.

But they are required to be checked and follow the guidelines of the Cambodian Ministry of Health to confirm that they are negative for Covid-19.

Earlier this month, hundreds of Cambodians were stranded in Malaysia after that government banned airlines from departing the country to prevent a spread of Covid-19.

Bun Heng also said at a press conference on Monday that an inter-ministerial committee had discussed the matter.

“The government has paid great attention to our people stuck in Malaysia. The ministry [of Health] has already asked permission from the head of the Cambodian government, requiring the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to file a formal letter to Malaysia asking that 73 prisoners and 149 fishermen be returned to Cambodia,” he said.

But Bun Heng said all of them had to follow certain conditions to ensure that the return is Covid-19 free.

“The most important conditions are that [Cambodia] asked Malaysia to do what it takes to test them for Covid-19. If a test comes backs negative, that person can come back. But for those who carry the virus, they have to be treated there until they recover.

“It is like how we treat Malaysian people in Cambodia. Those who arrive in Cambodia are kept in quarantine for 14 days so their health can be monitored and they stay another 14 days at home,” he said.

Along with the tests, Bun Heng also said he expects the Malaysian government to care for the Cambodians until they recover, free of charge, and pay attention to them the same way Cambodia has taken care of Malaysians hospitalised in the Kingdom.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Koy Kuong told The Post on Monday that the Cambodian Embassy in Malaysia is working with Malaysian officials regarding the formalities.

“When our people want to come back, it is up to health checks and testing and there is a specific time frame set by the two countries. Some have found good jobs and no longer want to come back. Others want to come back,” he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen took to Facebook to thank the workers in Malaysia for their understanding of the measures to prevent Covid-19 in Cambodia.

He posted that the government would like to thank the more than 200 workers, including 73 inmates, who were recently suspended from returning to Cambodia “while our country was in the process of strict travel restrictions”.

“But at this time, the travel ban in the country has been released, so the government decided that more than 200 Cambodian workers could return home. But please give the Malaysian authorities time to do a medical test to confirm that there are no positive signs of Covid-19.

“Please do not worry if you are not infected with Covid-19, you may return to Cambodia soon. On the other hand, if Malaysia detects the Covid-19 in any of you, it is necessary to stay there for treatment until you have fully recovered and are allowed to return to Cambodia,” he said.

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