Jia Jianhua, the only person in the Kingdom found to be infected with Novel Coronavirus, was discharged from the Preah Sihanouk provincial referral hospital yesterday after making a full recovery.
The 60-year-old Chinese man, accompanied by two family members, was given a grand send-off from the hospital during a ceremony attended by Health Minister Mam Bun Heng, Environment Minister Say Samal, Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Sihanoukville representatives and other relevant officials.
Mr Jia and his three family members arrived in Sihanoukville on January 23 from Wuhan city, in Hubei province, which is the epicenter of a global outbreak of the virus.
He tested positive for the virus two days later and was treated under quarantine in the hospital, while his family members were quarantined for the mandatory 14-day period at a hotel in the city.
They were also released from quarantine yesterday after showing no sign of the virus.
The Health Ministry confirmed the Chinese national’s clean bill of health.
“The Ministry of Health wishes to inform the public that the Chinese man infected with 2019 Novel Coronavirus was allowed to leave the hospital on February 10, 2020, after a third sample from him also tested negative [for the virus] by the Pasteur Institute,” the statement said. “He is in better health and his three family members were also released from quarantine.”
During his treatment, specimens from Mr Jia were tested by the institute to see if the virus was still present in his body.
Last week he tested negative twice and the third and final test was carried out yesterday to confirm that he was truly free from infection.
During the ceremony, Mr Jia told Mr Bun Heng that he was grateful to relevant officials and hospital staff who cared for him during the treatment.
“I want to thank the officials and all the staff,” he said. “I thank the medical staff for taking care of all my needs and giving me excellent treatment. My thanks also go to representatives of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Sihanoukville [which supported him and his family].”
Sechou Sethychot, deputy director of the provincial health department and head of its rapid response team, said yesterday that Mr Jai no longer needs to be monitored for the virus by health officials.
“We allowed him to leave the hospital at 11am today [yesterday] before our health Minister Mam Bun Heng held a press conference,” Dr Sethychot said.
He said Mr Jia and his family plan to fly back to Wuhan today.
Speaking to reporters during the press conference at the hospital yesterday, Mr Bun Heng urged the public to continue to take steps to protect themselves from Novel Coronavirus.
“The most important thing is our people must be careful; it does not mean that the problem is over when the infected Chinese man returns home,” Mr Bun Heng said. “They [the public] need to protect themselves.”
“People need to take preventative measures such as washing their hands frequently,” he added. “If you feel you have a cold, you need to wear a facemask to avoid spreading the virus.”
Mr Bun Heng called on Facebook users to stop spreading fake news and causing panic among the public in regards to Novel Coronavirus.
“We also encourage our people who travel abroad to wear facemasks,” he said. “If you return from overseas and suspect any health problems, please go to the Khmer-Soviet Friendship hospital or provincial referral hospitals to have a sample test.”
Mr Bun Heng said the government has mobilised about 2,000 medical officials to create a rapid response team that deals with issues related to the virus.
He also expressed his gratitude to the group of doctors and medical officers at the provincial referral hospital whose efforts to treat Mr Jia were successful.
An official from the Chinese Embassy who attended yesterday’ s ceremony also expressed his gratitude to the Cambodian government, Health Ministry, provincial health department officials and provincial referral hospital staff for taking care of Mr Jia.