The Ministry of Health on Saturday announced a new positive case of COVID-19 virus, a 70-year-old Hungarian man who escaped from quarantine on Saturday.
The new case came one week and six days after the previous one, a British man on September 13, which also came one week and six days after a Khmer female on August 31.
The Hungarian man living in Siem Reap province’s Siem Reap city, was confirmed as having the coronavirus by the Pasteur Institute, according to a statement from the Ministry of Health.
Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said that the Emergency Response Team of the Siem Reap Provincial Health Department and the Department of Communicable Disease Control of the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the World Health Organization and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, have been investigating those who had contact with the Hungarian man.
“The wife of the patient is being monitored at the Siem Reap Provincial Hospital. Her first test result was negative of the COVID-19 virus on Saturday,” she said.
Vandine said the patient had left quarantine to Siem Reap Angkor Institute to buy paintings, however, he was wearing a mask and was only in the building for a short while.
The tuk-tuk driver who took him to the Siem Reap Angkor Institute was found by the team on Saturday afternoon. He was given a health check and is under quarantine for 14 days in Siem Reap Provincial Hospital. His wife and two children were advised to undergo a 14-day quarantine at their home.
“Doctors are continuing to monitor the case further,” Vandine added.
A taxi driver in Phnom Penh, who was hired by the patient on September 16 to travel to Siem Reap, has also been found and samples were taken for testing yesterday. He has been instructed to undergo quarantine at his home.
The Hungarian was identified as Zelnik Istvan, 70, a doctor of economics.
He travelled on a flight from France via South Korea and arrived in Cambodia on September 13, where his test results came back as negative for COVID-19.
He was then quarantined at his residence until the 13th day, on the 25th of September. He was tested again and his sample was sent for analysis at the Pasteur Institute.
Whilst waiting for results, he escaped from his accommodation and disappeared.
After a search by authorities and the Siem Reap provincial health department, the Hungarian man was found at around 9:30am sleeping in a villa in Siem Reap City.
The Ministry of Health has already had to deal with four cases of people escaping from quarantine so far.
The first case involved a 36-year-old Cambodian-American woman who arrived in Cambodia on July 15.
After testing negative, she was placed in mandatory quarantine in a hotel in Phnom Penh.
However, she escaped from her room at around midnight on July 18.
Later that evening, the authorities found her in a guesthouse in Kampong Cham city and she was sent to complete her quarantine at the Mekong Hotel.
The second case was of two men, aged 22 and 33, who had returned from Malaysia on July 23.
The men fled from a health centre in Prey Veng province on August 3.
Later that night, the authorities found them in a house in Prey Veng province and placed them back in quarantine.
The third case was of a Vietnamese woman and her 13-year-old son, who escaped from a quarantine centre in Preah Sdach referral hospital in Prey Veng Province.
They fled to Kampong Chhnang province where they were later found.
The fourth case was of two Chinese men, Jiang Jiajie, 23, and Zhu Jun 32, who both escaped on September 13, from a quarantine centre while awaiting test results for COVID-19, upon their arrival at the Phnom Penh International Airport on September 8.
The authorities are still looking for the duo, noting that although they tested negative for the virus, they are still required to undergo mandatory quarantine.
Vandine said that the reasoning behind the escapes was that people had tested negative and therefore fled. However, she reiterated that it was imperative to complete quarantine in order to ensure they were free of the virus, as there were cases of people who had tested positive on the second or third time being tested.
The 54-year-old British man is receiving treatment at the Khmer Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh and a Hungarian man is being treated at the Siem Reap Provincial Referral Hospital.