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Ship passengers and crew being tested for COVID-19

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
A health worker sprays disinfectant at the Kampong Cham Provincial Referral Hospital. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Kampong Cham city, Kampong Cham province – The Viking Cruise Journey is still docked with scores of passengers and crew members remaining on board as sub-national officials scour the province to identify anyone who may have come into contact with a British national identified as the Kingdom’s third imported COVID-19 case.

“Please search a few sites where guests had visited,” Provincial Governor Un Chenda said, referring to all passengers who had travelled with the patient.

On Tuesday Health Minister Mam Bun Heng announced the 65-year-old British woman was under quarantine at the Kampong Cham Provincial Referral Hospital after the virus was detected in the patient.

Health officials prepare to take samples from passengers of the ship. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Or Vandine, spokeswoman for the Health Ministry, said yesterday four people who may have come in contact with the British patient were allowed to return home after they were tested.

“[Four tests] came out negative and we allowed them to return home for 14 days of self-monitoring.”

The ship arrived in Kampong Cham city at 5pm Monday, according to Provincial Hall spokesman Chea Krouch.

Mr Krouch said 62 passengers and crew aboard the ship had their samples taken by Health Ministry and Kampong Cham health officials, adding the samples were sent to the Pasteur Institute for COVID-19 tests.

He noted only 58 people remained on board the ship after two were admitted in hospital and two others disembarked in Phnom Penh and Kandal province before the ship docked in Kampong Cham on Monday.

Mr Krouch said the British patient was transferred to a hospital in Phnom Penh because the provincial referral hospital lacks facilities for people who are disabled.

A passenger onboard the ship waves at journalists. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Mr Bun Heng yesterday visited the patient at the Kampong Cham Referral Hospital  and said the boat was filled with foreign nationals from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, Myanmar and China.

Emily Zeeberg, spokeswoman for the US embassy, said yesterday USAID is helping the government with COVID-19.

“The US government has committed – through USAID – over $2 million in Cambodia for risk communication, community engagement, and laboratory support,” Ms Zeeberg said. “Members of the National Institutes of Health at the US Embassy have contributed to global research on COVID-19.”

Minister Mam Bun Heng speaks to a WHO official in Kampong Cham. KT/Chor Sokunthea

“The embassy, including representatives from the National Institutes of Health, the Naval Medical Research Unit-2, US Agency for International Development, Centre for Disease Control and the embassy’s medical section have worked closely with Institut Pasteur du Cambodge and the Khmer Soviet Friendship Hospital to support COVID-19 testing,” she added.

According to the World Health Organization, there have been 113,702 confirmed global coronavirus cases, including 4,012 deaths.

Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhay Ly yesterday met with WHO representatives to discuss COVID-19 and the British patient.

Yin Sinath, director of the Kampong Cham Provincial Referral Hospital, said yesterday Mr Chhay Ly requested cooperation from the British embassy regarding the British national.

Mr Sinath said the British lady’s condition was “stable” while she was being treated in his hospital.

“We were able to control the situation because we isolated the patient from others,” he said.

Chan Savuth, a 53-year-old resident of Kampong Cham, yesterday said residents are worried about COVID-19 after the government announced the Kingdom’s latest imported case.

“People in Kampong Cham are worried because this virus is ‘strong’,” Mr Savuth said. “First we learned about [the Siem Reap patient], and now we are learning about [the British patient].”

“We are wondering why the government would even allow the ship to come to Kampong Cham,” he added. “I was supposed to go to a party tonight, but no longer plan to go.”

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