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Utmost caution urged after Covid outbreak in Thailand

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Cambodian Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urgently advised residents near the border to exercise heightened caution and quarantine all people crossing the border for 14 days following the Covid-19 outbreak in Thailand’s Samut Sakhon province. Hong Menea

Utmost caution urged after Covid outbreak in Thailand

Following the Covid-19 outbreak in Thailand’s Samut Sakhon province, Cambodian Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urgently advised residents near the border to exercise heightened caution and quarantine all people crossing the border for 14 days.

Bun Heng relayed notification on December 20 that Thai health authorities issued an alert advising regional counterparts of detection of a Covid-19 outbreak in Samut Sakhon that had spread to Bangkok. Over 500 people, mostly Burmese migrant workers, tested positive in a single day, and the Thai government has put the province under lockdown from December 20 to January 3.

“The [Thai] ministry released this emergency guidance because Samut Sakhon province is only 300km from Cambodia. Koh Kong, Pursat, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Oddar Meanchey provinces have border crossings with Thailand. The guidance was released to try to prevent infection from entering Cambodia by means of the movements of individuals who are positive for Covid-19,” Bun Heng said.

He called on people on both sides of the border to be diligent in monitoring inbound international passengers. Authorities must examine travellers’ health seriously, especially checking temperatures and ensuring that health forms were filled in correctly, he insisted.

Bun Heng added that a mandatory quarantine of 14 days applies to all people arriving to the country. Their testing would be handled by the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, the National Institute of Public Health or the provincial Hospital of Siem Reap.

“Sub-national level authorities must steadfastly monitor the quarantine of arriving passengers to Cambodia in order to prevent people escaping undetected from quarantine facilities. Community members should provide information to local authorities regarding new arrivals,” he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen delivered cash to seven provinces near the Cambodia-Thailand border earmarked for poor people during quarantine. Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Pailin, Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey, Pursat and Koh Kong provinces each received 50 million riel ($12,500).

Health ministry spokeswoman York Sambath said Hun Sen had instructed the authorities of these provinces to strengthen enforcement of quarantine procedures for Cambodian workers returning from Thailand to prevent spread of the infection.

On December 19, Bun Heng issued revised health measures, including a strict, 14-day quarantine for diplomats and international officials holding diplomatic visas. They will be required to obtain a certificate indicating a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of departure from their country of origin. Upon arrival, they must have samples taken for testing by Cambodian doctors.

He stressed that foreign representatives and UN organisations in Cambodia need to ensure compliance by those who have obtained Cambodian diplomatic visas. In the event that an in-bound passenger tests positive for Covid-19, the person will be sent to a hospital managed by the ministry.

“Diplomats must be kept in a complete, 14-day quarantine at embassy residences or related facilities. In the case that diplomats do not stay at embassy facilities, they must complete a 14-day quarantine at the Himawari Hotel under supervision of their embassy or organisation officials. They must cover all expenses themselves,” Bun Heng said.

Also on December 18, South Korea delivered new aid to Cambodia’s health ministry via four agencies. In a press release, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) said that the aid included 20 hazmat suits for conducting Covid-19 testing, 12 stretchers, two mobile X-ray machines, four disinfectant machines, 23,000 test kits, two RT PCR testing machines and 300 pieces of protective gear.

On December 20, the health ministry announced that 30 of 41 people who tested positive for Covid-19 in connection with the November 28 community transmission had recovered. Seventeen more patients continue to undergo treatment.

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