The Ministry of Interior is continuing to question several of the 13 people, including five foreigners, who were detained over two days for producing and selling fake Covid-19 test kits.
National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun told The Post on Tuesday that among the 13 who were arrested by police between Sunday and Monday, four were educated and allowed to return home, while the other nine were still being questioned.
The nine men were detained when authorities cracked down on 12 such cases across the country. Of them, nine were in Phnom Penh, two in Preah Sihanouk province and one in Siem Reap province.
Of those who were educated and allowed to go home, one was an online seller who did not keep stocks of test kits but just took orders when there was a sale.
“Authorities seized a large number of counterfeit equipment, including 21 blood test pins, 13 emergency test kits, 400 sets of protective clothing and 191,500 fake masks.
“Selling such fake products is inappropriate as it threatens national health and safety. We must act against all such opportunists and continue carrying out operations,” Kim Khoeun said.
Cambodian Investment Federation president Ley Sopheap who is also a director of the Cambodian Pharmacists Association, said on Tuesday that he supported the law enforcement’s crackdown on opportunists.
“Operating unscrupulous businesses while our country is suffering from Covid-19 infections can lead to further disasters,” he said.
He urged the authorities to take the strictest measures to act against traders who do not think of the impact on the end-user. He also called on businesses to join the fight against Covid-19 through the sale of legitimate, quality products which should also be donated to the most vulnerable.
“Our country is being infected by Covid-19. Our businessmen and pharmacists should not exploit the situation. We should donate as much safety materials as possible. If we just think of profits instead of the national interests, what would happen to those who cannot afford the products?” he asked.
The authorities’ crackdown comes after Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered a clampdown on the illegal sale of Covid-19 test kits. National Police Chief Neth Savoeun also ordered the police to investigate and arrest pharmacy owners who sold the test kits and medicines alleged to prevent the coronavirus infection.
Meanwhile, on Monday, Hun Sen was quoted by Fresh News as saying that the government had ordered between three million and 5.2 million masks to be distributed to the public and provided to Cambodian doctors as the Kingdom fought Covid-19.
He assigned the Ministry of Health to order four million masks from abroad and placed a direct order from a factory in Preah Sihanouk province for 1.2 million masks. The factory will also become a supplier for the government for domestic users.
Beside this factory, the prime minister has ordered another factory that is capable of producing more than 10,000 litres of alcohol per day to supply to the government as well. It will make alcohol a strategic commodity for use in the event Covid-19 becomes an epidemic in Cambodia.
Hun Sen said the masks are like a bullet reserved to protect ourselves, while the funds spent on buying them, alcohol and protective clothing for medical personnel come from donations to the National Committee for Combating Covid-19.