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Official suspects bribery in quarantine bus scandal

Tith Kongnov and Khann Chanvirak / Khmer Times Share:
Passengers arrive at Phnom Penh International Airport. KT/Pann Rachana

A health official who declined to be named but stationed at the Phnom Penh International Airport, said yesterday that the airport quarantine bus scandal could be linked to bribery.

The scandal – which emerged after passengers were caught on video disembarking a bus before reaching quarantine on Sunday – caused a major uproar on social media, leading to speculation over the incident.

In response, the unnamed  official has said that a monitory team has been formulated to ensure all buses carrying new arrivals from the airport do not allow passengers to disembark before reaching quarantine and that no bribery is taking place.

“I, along with the team, will now monitor the transportation process of new arrivals to make sure they have properly followed the guidelines of the Ministry of Health,” he said.

A tuk tuk driver, who works in front of Phnom Penh International Airport and asked not to be named, said he was approached by officials yesterday from the airport and was asked to report any information regarding the disembarking of passengers from buses coming from the airport.

Phnom Penh City Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey yesterday also reaffirmed that no one has permanently disembarked from buses on route from the airport to quarantine.

“Regarding the incident on Sunday, no one was dropped off on the way to quarantine. One passenger unloaded luggage – which was later revealed to be a guitar – to his friends mid-way through the trip. However, all passengers remained on board and reached their respective quarantine centres,” he said.

Meanwhile, a run of nine days of no new COVID-19 cases ended yesterday after a Cambodian couple tested positive.

Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said yesterday the husband and wife, originally from Kampong Thom province, had returned to Cambodia from Iraq via Qatar and Seoul on Sunday and were found to be COVID-19 positive on Monday.

The 33-year old male and his 32-year-old wife tested positive for the virus twice and are now receiving treatment at the Khmer Soviet Friendship Hospital.

The couple’s three-year-old child, who travelled with them, has tested negative.

“Health workers are still monitoring the child’s health because we do not know if he is infected with the virus. The child is deemed high risk and the possibility of transmission has been high,” Vandine said.

A statement from the Ministry yesterday said: “The other 106 passengers on board the flight have tested negative for the virus but have still been placed in 14-day quarantine. Sixty-nine of the passengers have been placed in designated hotels across Phnom Penh and the remaining 37 are placed in the Air Force quarantine centre.”

The total number of cases now stands at 285. They include 178 Cambodians, 43 French, 18 Chinese, 13 Malaysians, nine Indonesians, seven Americans, six Britons, three Vietnamese, three Canadians, one Belgian, two Indians, one Kazakh and one Hungarian.

 

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