The Ministry of Health has banned the distribution and sale of Covid-19 antibody rapid testing kits that have not been registered or recognised.
This comes as the ministry also put into use Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for treating Covid-19 patients at home for reasons of practicality in Phnom Penh.
In a press statement on June 21, the ministry said four social media account users – Brother II, Leng Kuchnika Pol, Srey Nit and TMS-Trust Medical Services – have been advertising Covid-19 antibody rapid testing kits for sale, while some private health facilities had already used them to test people.
“These Covid-19 antibody rapid testing kits in circulation have not been registered with the health ministry and have yet to be recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Results from the kits are not considered credible either,” it said.
Pursuant to the Law on Amendment to the Law on Pharmaceutical Management, medical equipment and all kinds of rapid testing kits circulating in Cambodia must have registration numbers from the health ministry and advertisements for them also have to be permitted by the ministry.
“The ministry requires all individuals and private health service owners to stop advertising or selling or using these test devices immediately,” it said.
According to the ministry, such unauthorised circulation caused social anarchy which negatively affects the government’s Covid-19 vaccination policy. WHO also said it was not necessary to be tested after a person was fully vaccinated.
Using such noncertified devices, the ministry noted, poses a high risk of contracting Covid-19.
In the meantime, the ministry designated Phnom Penh as the first zone to put into practice.
SOPs for treating Covid-19 patients who have mild or asymptomatic cases at home, effective from June 20.
In an announcement dated June 20, health minister Mam Bun Heng said SOPs for the provinces will be announced later based on the levels of Covid-19 present in each geographical location.
Bun Heng said the decision came with WHO’s recommendation to reduce the burdens on the healthcare system by leaving spaces free for Covid-19 patients who are in serious condition.
According to the ministry, Cambodia has up to 80 per cent mild cases which can be treated at homes with medical workers following up on their health regularly. The severe cases accounted for only five per cent of cases in the country, while the other 15 per cent were in emergency condition.
“The ministry will train the head trainers of all municipal and provincial health departments who will in turn train officials, staff and medical teams in their respective bases,” he said referring to the next phase when the SOPs will be put into place.
A similar SOP document was announced in April. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said it focused on the particular responsibility of the patient in hygiene, the management of waste, patient contacts, responsibility of local authorities and health departments, and the distribution of medicine, among others.
According to the SOPs, those who are to be treated at home should not be older than 60 years of age, non-smokers, nonobese, and with no chronic diseases. Only homes that have a separate room for the patient are eligible for treatment.
The SOPs indicate that a test must be taken on the 13th day of home-based treatment. If the result is negative, the patients have to place themselves in 14-day quarantine. Then they can end the treatment without having to take another test.
But if the patient tests positive on their 13th day, the home treatment shall continue for up to 28 days and could end if their last three days show no signs of the disease.
Prime Minister Hun Sen recommended in April that mild asymptomatic patients be treated at home in order to keep the number of Covid-19 patients within Cambodia’s treatment facility’s capacity.