As Prime Minister Hun Sen is set to announce the Kingdom’s plans on obtaining a COVID-19 vaccine today, the Ministry of Health yesterday declined to provide any details on possible sourcing.
In a late phone call to Khmer Times, Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said she would wait for the Prime Minister to outline details.
Mr Hun Sen will hold a special live broadcast to inform the public about the COVID-19 situation and the purchase of a vaccine at about 9am via national television.
His address will come after he ordered officials from the ministries of Health and Finance to discuss the sourcing and funding of a vaccine last Monday.
Speaking to the press yesterday, Head of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit at the Council of Ministers Svay Sitha said that the live broadcast will be conducted from the Prime Minister’s residence in Kandal province’s Takhmao City.
He said that Mr Hun Sen will raise the issue of COVID-19, especially the “November 28 community incident”.
Several types of vaccines have been or are being developed and some, like the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine and China’s Sinovac have already been distributed for use in several countries including in Asean.
The countries which received doses had previously pre-ordered them.
On December 7, Mr Hun Sen announced plans to purchase the COVID-19 vaccine for free distribution to Cambodians. He plans to buy about one million doses in the first phase to give to about 500,000 people.
Meanwhile, some people completing their mandatory 14-day quarantine at Phnom Penh hotel have complained they were asked to pay an extra $65 for their stay before finally being allowed to check out late evening due after an official clearance letter from the Health Ministry that they were free from COVID-19.
A foreigner who ended her quarantine at the hotel on Saturday said that the hotel issued her the bill for the quarantine period and informed that she would be checking out once the MoH issued the COVID-19 results.
She said in the evening the receptionist informed her that the COVID-19 results came back negative and that they were waiting for the ministry to send the release order via email.
“Around 8pm, the receptionist called again to state that I have to pay an extra $65 as that was the hotel policy.However, I argued with her stating that we had already deposited $2,000 with the Ministry of Health and thus the due payments will be deducted accordingly and the balance to be returned,” she said.
“The receptionist then said that the $65 will not be deducted from the deposit but I had to pay separately as that was hotel policy,” she added.
The foreigner said that another couple when met at the waiting area to check out said they too received the call asking for the $65.
However, she added that when she went to the reception area to collect her passport and other documents, she was not asked for the money.
“The hotel management and staff took good care of us. Their services were good. The only twist to all the good deed was the bill which came as a surprise and shock,” she added.
An executive of Phnom Penh Hotel, who asked to remain anonymous, told Khmer Times yesterday that under the quarantine policy of the Ministry of Health, the hotel will only allow guests to leave the hotel if their COVID-19 test results are negative and the hotel’s universal policy is free of charge if the guests leave before check-out time of 12 noon.
A housekeeping manager of Tianyi Hotel Ly Anny said yesterday that her hotel does not charge extra for quarantined guests, except if they order extra food or items from the hotel. However, quarantine guests who have stayed at Tian Yi Hotel refuted this claim and said they were made to pay at least half a day for late check out.
“If the customers want to buy something more from our hotel, we will sell according to the price list that we provide to the customers, and when the customers receive the goods, they have to give the cash at that time,” she said.
Anny added that problems arose when guests wanted to leave the hotel immediately after completing their 14-day quarantine. However, the hotel could not allow them to do so without the ministry clearance which was usually issued late.
She urged the Ministry of Health to expedite the release of the results and not cause any delay.
The director of the ministry’s Communicable Disease Control Department Dr Ly Sovann could not be reached for comment yesterday.
In another development, the Kingdom reported no new positive cases of COVID-19 yesterday, and there were two recoveries.
It has been three consecutive days that no new COVID-19 cases have been found linked to the “November 28 community incident”, according to the Health Ministry.
The two recoveries include a Cambodian woman, 35, from Kampot province’s Toek Chhou district and a Cambodian American man, 49, from Phnom Penh’s Por Senchey district.
The woman arrived in Cambodia from China on November 18 and she tested negative for the virus twice while the man arrived in the country from the United States via Taiwan on December 4.
They were discharged from the hospitals yesterday.
The ministry also said that it has tested more than 3,400 of 6,700 samples from Saturday and Sunday linked to the “November 28 community incident” and the results came back negative for the virus.
The remaining 3,324 samples are scheduled to be tested today, it said.
To date, Cambodia has recorded a total of 359 people with COVID-19 (84 females and 275 males). The total number of recoveries is 309, with 50 being hospitalised.
In related news, the National Assembly yesterday announced that lawmakers and officials who tested negative for COVID-19 for the third time can now return to work.
The announcement was made after over 100 lawmakers and National Assembly officials, including its president Heng Samrin, were cleared of COVID-19 in their third round of testing on Sunday. All of them were asked to go in quarantine after they had a meeting with Loy Sophat, a lawmaker who came in direct contact with General Chhem Savuth, director-general of the Interior Ministry’s General Department of Prisons, who was one of the first victims of the “November 28 Community incident”.
“Those who have tested negative for the third time can return to work as usual since the fourth testing is not required,” said NA Secretary-General Leng Peng Long.
However, he added the lawmakers and officials who return to work today will have to follow the preventive measures imposed by the Ministry of Health to prevent COVID-19 infection in the future, including wearing face masks, washing their hands frequently, avoiding gathering and practising social distancing.
Additional reporting by Taing Rinith