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Complaints rise over “twin-sharing” and “exorbitant charges” in quarantine hotel

Khann Chanvirak / Khmer Times Share:
Tian Yi International Hotel in Phnom Penh which has been designated as a quarantine centre. KT/Pann Rachana

Some foreigners have complained to Khmer Times that they have been asked to be placed in quarantine in a room with another person at the Tian Yi International Hotel in Phnom Penh, designated as a centre by the Health Ministry, owing to a shortage of rooms. They also said they are being charged exorbitant prices for food, drinks and other necessities.

“After we were allowed out of the airport we had to board a specially-designated bus to the hotel. Upon arrival a hotel staff boarded the bus and told us that if we twin-share a room, whether with a family member or a stranger, the cost is $60 per head,” one of them said. “The hotel will try as hard as possible to push you to share rooms by saying there are not enough rooms and if you do not do so, you will be placed at another ministry-designated hotel which does not have favourable ratings by travellers posting their experience on websites.”

In an interview at the hotel, Mile Wang, Tian Yi’s executive general manager yesterday denied that foreigners were encouraged to share rooms with strangers but said sometimes a couple or a mother and child wanted to be quarantine together in a room.

He claimed that the Health Ministry allowed this to be done.

“Only family members can be together because people refuse to share rooms with strangers,” he said. “My hotel has never had any strangers sharing rooms. There are police, authorities and health officials on duty at the hotel to make sure health guidelines are followed.”

Wang said it costs $90 per room for single occupancy, including meals per person so family members who stay in a room will have to fork out $120, or $60 each comprising $30 each for the room and $30 each for the meals.

“My hotel does not charge more than the limit set by the Ministry of Health. $60 per room and $30 for three meals per day,” he said.

“The guests can also order food at the hotel, as we have put the menu and the price in a special group chat.”

Responding to complaints by foreigners who told Khmer Times the hotel was charging $1.50 for a 350ml bottle of mineral water, Wang said this was because the water was of superior quality.

He noted his hotel has so far received about 6,000 quarantine guests, up to 2,000 a month.

Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said yesterday that being quarantined in a hotel alone or with two people in a room is an individual choice, after consent from the ministry is obtained.

However the hotel staff  had allegedly asked each guest checking in to share rooms irrespective of whether they were family or strangers.

“It is not uncommon for two people, whether family or friends, to stay in the same room as long as they practice good hygiene and protect themselves from virus transmission,” she said.

WHO country representative Dr Li Ailan could not be reached for comment by press time yesterday.

Some foreigners have also complained that after they have completed the swab tests at the airport, they are herded into designated buses which are full of other passengers, in violation of social distancing requirements.

They also said the buses just took them to two of the ministry-designated hotels and not others on the ministry’s list which some of them had pre-booked to stay in.

Khek Norinda, communications and public relations director of Cambodia Airports, said yesterday that medical examinations are the responsibility of health officials and the authorities and the buses at the airport are not packed.

“I do not know about the buses from the airport to the hotels. But for our airport buses, we have implemented a set of measures, including operating more buses to comply with social distancing,” he said.

Norinda also said 2,015,000 foreign tourists entered Cambodia from January to August, a 75 percent drop from the 7,968,000 who visited during the same period last year.

Cambodia yesterday had no new cases for the 10th consecutive day, although some other countries are seeing an increase in cases daily.

The last case of COVID-19 in Cambodia was reported on August 30.

The Ministry of Health has said that 273 patients have recovered, a 99.65 percent recovery rate, with only one patient currently undergoing treatment for the virus.

The 274 cases consist of 174 Cambodians, 41 French, 17 Chinese, 13 Malaysians, eight Indonesians, seven Americans, five British, three Vietnamese, three Canadians, one Belgian, one Indian, and one Kazakh.

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