The government has said it will cancel the three-day Water Festival scheduled to take place in late October in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
A letter dated August 11 and obtained by Khmer Times yesterday said: “The government has approved the cancellation of the 2020 Water Festival.”
Ek Tha, spokesman for the office of the Council of Ministers, said yesterday the government has good reason to suspend the festival as authorities have been concerned over how they would implement virus transmission prevention measures at the event.
“At Cambodia’s Water Festival, tens of thousands of people gather to enjoy the traditional event around the river fronts of Tonle Sap and the four arms of the Mekong,” he said.
Tha said that in the current climate, it is not appropriate to hold the event, especially one which will draw such large crowds.
“Although we do not have community transmission in the country, we don’t want to take the risk,” he said.
The water festival is due to be held between October 30 and November 1.
Meanwhile, four Cambodian men who returned from Russia and Indonesia late last month have recently tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 272.
In a statement issued yesterday, the Health Ministry said three of the men, aged between 26 and 30, were on board the flight that flew from Russia via Malaysia and arrived in Phnom Penh on July 19.
The statement said they tested positive for the virus yesterday after their sixth test and are now receiving treatment at the Kampong Speu Provincial Referral Hospital.
The fourth man, a 27-year-old, also tested positive for the virus yesterday after his fifth test while in quarantine. He returned on a direct flight from Indonesia on July 23.
He is now receiving treatment at Norodom Sihanouk Tboung Khmum Hospital in Tboung Khmum province’s Suong city.
The ministry statement also reported that three Cambodian men have received the all-clear after recovering from the virus on Wednesday, with their two test results each confirming they are free of the virus.
Two of the three men, both aged 27, were passengers who had also arrived in Phnom Penh on board the July 19 flight from Russia via Malaysia.
The other man, a 37-year-old from Kampong Speu province, returned from a UN peacekeeping mission in Mali on July 10.
The trio were discharged yesterday from Chak Angre Krom Health Centre, the statement said.
Health Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said the COVID-19 situation in Cambodia is still serious.
“As I have often said, we must not overlook the possibility of an outbreak, which can occur anywhere and at any time. We still do not know the exact nature of this virus,” she said.