Health Minister Mam Bun Heng said yesterday that from now on Cambodia will be enforcing a strict mandatory 14-day quarantine for all passengers flying into the Kingdom.
He made the announcement early yesterday morning while monitoring virus prevention measures at the Phnom Penh International Airport as two flights from South Korea landed.
He said that the flight contained a variety of nationalities, including Cambodian, Korean, Iraqi, French, and Americans, adding that the 106 passengers who arrived on the flights will now be put into mandatory quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Cambodia.
The mandatory measures come after Cambodia identified two new cases of COVID-19, with both passengers who tested positive departing from the United States but one via the Philippines and one via South Korea, bringing the total number of cases in the Kingdom to 124.
Mr Bun Heng visited the airport to personally check on the arrivial of the rwo flights from South Korea carrying the passengers.
“We have come today to check the health certificates and insurance policies of passengers which should have been issued from their individual countries or organised by themselves before travelling to Cambodia,” Mr. Bun Heng told reporters at the Phnom Penh Airport.
“All passengers are being taken to a quarantine centre and are awaiting COVID-19 test results.
“78 passengers have been placed in a quarantine centre near a military air base and 28 others near Chak Angre Kroam, Meanchey district,” he said.
“If their test results are negative of COVID-19 we will allow them to leave.
“We will be carrying out these measures and quarantine all passengers coming through into Cambodia until the pandemic has eased sufficiently,” he said.
Dr. Ly Sovann, director of the Communicable Disease Control Department said yesterday that all passengers must be tested to ensure the spread virus of COVID-19.
“We have taken samples from everyone entering for testing,” he said.
Last month, the Royal Government decided to lift the travel ban for six countries, but said they would be required to have health certificates issued no longer than 72 hours before flying to confirm that they are free of coronavirus as well as all foreigner passengers needing minimum $50,000 health insurance policies to enter the Kingdom.
The six-countries effected by the requirements are Iran, Italy, Germany, Spain, France and the United States.
However, Sin Chansereyvutha, spokesman for the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation said yesterday that he expressed to concern over the virus spreading amongst passengers.
“We are really concerned, but we are reassured by the strict measures for traveller that have been implemented.
“Upon arrival in Phnom Penh, they are required to isolate for a while and to await test results,” he said.
Chansereyvutha said. “Then when they are found clear of the virus, they can leave for home. However we still urge people to practice isolation for a period of time, and practise measures suggested by the ministry of health,” he said.
WHO country representative Li Ailan said via email yesterday that it is not surprising that Cambodia has reported further cases of COVID-19.
“The country remains in Stage 1 of the outbreaks, where we expect to see new imported cases. As people are arriving in Cambodia from other countries where there is widespread community transmission, it is not unusual to see new cases in view of the nature of virus,” she said.
She said that WHO is pleased to see that Cambodia’s public health surveillance and response system is continuing to work well to detect and respond to cases.
She also said WHO appreciates the public’s efforts to continue to comply with public health measures, such as quarantine, which protects individuals, families and communities and prevents further transmission of COVID-19. Greater social responsibility by every individual, she said, makes our society safer.
“These recent cases demonstrate what WHO has previously stated, that being, the pandemic will not be over in any country until it is over in every country. As long as the virus is circulating somewhere, Cambodia is at risk. It is highly likely that this virus will be with us for a long time. We must remain vigilant,” she said.
In every country, governments decide what border control measures are appropriate and necessary for their country in line with the WHO guidance.
“In Cambodia, as in other countries, WHO continues to advise the government to apply a risk-based, balanced approach for gradually lifting or reintroducing various social and travel related measures, including restrictions on people entering the country,” she said.
“Presently, WHO is working with the Cambodian Ministry of Health to strengthen public health measures including passenger screening at international airports and provision of health information and advice including quarantine measures to people entering Cambodia,” she added.