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Nearly 50 novices reported ill

Khann Chanvirak / Khmer Times Share:
Novices being tested in Battambang. Battambang Provincial Health Department

Forty-six novices, aged from 11 to 19, reportedly had temperatures of more than 37.5 degrees Celsius, showed flu-like symptoms and had runny noses for six days in Battambang province.

They had come from several other provinces to study at a Buddhist school in Wat Svay Dangkum pagoda in Ek Phnom district.

Ouk Vichea, deputy director of the Battambang provincial health department, said yesterday that he and his colleagues, inspected and took samples of 21 of the group who had a fever on September 13, and that the team will continue to visit other novices.

“The initial determination of their symptoms is not serious. Some of them have received some relief, but we need to keep an eye on the situation,” he said.

Vichea said the provincial health officials advised the priest and the management of the school to apply rules of personal hygiene to those who were ill, including the wearing of face masks and drinking warm water.

Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said yesterday that 21 laymen who have not yet recovered from their symptoms, had samples taken by Battambang provincial doctors for analysis yesterday morning and have sent them to the Institut Pasteur in Phnom Penh for COVID-19 tests. They are waiting for the results.

“Some have recovered and their situation has improved. According to the doctors’ preliminary findings, the novices are suspected of having influenza,” she said.

Vandine said that in order to protect themselves from the transmission of COVID- 19, tetanus, influenza and other infectious diseases, the public, novices and the monks must continue to take simple measures such as keeping their hands clean by often washing their hands, drinking hot water and eating well-cooked food.

“It is necessary to wear a mask when entering a pagoda or meeting other devotees, and to keep a safe personal distance of at least one and a half metres from other people,” she said. “When a monk or a person is sick or has a cold or is not feeling well, he or she should rest and remain in isolation and not attend a gathering in any part of the pagoda, which could cause person-to-person transmission.”

On September 12, Health Minister Mam Bun Heng inspected the extension of the building at Battambang Provincial Referral Hospital which is to be equipped with COVID-19 testing equipment so that it will be able to receive samples of people living in the northwestern region, such as Battambang, Banteay Meanchey. Pailin and Pursat provinces.

The purpose of this screening equipment is to reduce the time delay in taking samples to Phnom Penh for testing and then having to wait for the results to be sent back to the local hospital.

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