In a shocking development, outpatients at a public hospital are being allowed to blatantly disregard social distancing measures strictly put in place to prevent any spread of COVID-19.
A patient who visited the Ministry of Health-managed Calmette hospital yesterday morning revealed that social distancing measures were completely disregarded with staff seemingly unconcerned as they passed by.
The patient snapped a photo as he was waiting for a prescription, which showed people huddling together as they waited for service.
“At first I was surprised to see scores of people not social distancing, disregarding signs put on chairs to leave them empty as a social distancing measure with some even sharing the same seat,” said the patient who chose not to be named.
“It made me uncomfortable and it made me worry about the risk of catching COVID-19. Medical staff were milling about but nothing was being done to rectify the situation and the outside area was also crowded with people in close proximity,” he added.
The patient said masks were being worn by most, although he did notice some not being worn properly.
He noted that being a Monday the hospital was crowded with scores sitting on benches outside either waiting for family members or waiting to find a spot inside to be attended to.
He said other virus preventive measures, however, were in place such as visitors having their temperature taken upon entering and being sprayed with sanitiser.
The patient said that the previous week, he also encountered a total disregard for social distancing when he went for registration at the hospital.
He wondered how the Health Ministry will be able to convince other establishments, such as banks, to enforce social distancing when its own hospital was not doing so.
Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine could not be reached for comment after multiple attempts to contact her. Ministry spokesman Ly Sovann declined to comment.
Calmette Hospital staff likewise declined to comment.
Calmette Hospital is a public institution managed by the Ministry of Health, which has enforced virus prevention measures across the country.
In the past, the ministry has banned gatherings of more than 20 people and restaurants have had to change their operations to comply with the ministry’s measures.
The Ministry of Health’s Standard Operating Procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 state that people should keep at least two metres from each other, wear facemasks, sanitise their hands and avoid crowded areas.
In May, government officials warned restaurants that they would be closed if they didn’t strictly enforce virus prevention measures, including wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing.
In August, two restaurants were shut down for not implementing the measures..
Over Christmas, restaurants and businesses scrambled to keep in line with ministry guidelines, with some completely cancelling events.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health yesterday reported a new case of COVID-19, a 28-year-old female from Battambang province, who returned from Thailand on January 8. She is being treated at they provincial referral hospital.
The number of Cambodian migrant workers cluster cases has now risen to 27 with the overall tally in the Kingdom now at 392.
In another development, there has been reports that over 2,000 migrant workers have completed the mandatory 14 day quarantine and some of them have returned to their homes. They had returned to Battambang, Pailin, Oddar Meanchey, and Banteay Meanchey provinces from December 20 to January 10.
Director of Battambang Provincial Health Department, Voeurng Bunreth, said that from December 20 to January 10 a total of 2,312 workers has returned from Thailand and now there are 1,427 workers still in quarantine.
“The management committee of the quarantine centre in Battambang province has allowed 568 more migrant workers to return home after they finished their quarantine,” he said.
Bunreth said those who completed the 14 day period were issued a certificate to confirm they had complied with the Ministry of Health measures during their quarantine.
Ly Sary, deputy governor of Banteay Meanchey province, said that up to now, a total of 824 workers (368 females) have returned to their houses after ending their 14 days quarantine.
He said more than 4,000 workers came through the border international checkpoints border crossings from December 20 to January 7 and 3,754 workers are still in quarantine.
He added that over the last few days, he observed that on average 200 to 250 migrant workers return to the province per day.
Deputy governor of Oddar Meanchey province Dy Rado said that 3,135 migrant workers returned to the province from November 20 to January 10. He said 125 have completed their quarantine and nearly two thousand have yet to do so.
Meanwhile, on the instructions of Health Minister Mam Bun Heng, Vandine and Health Ministry officials yesterday accompanied Dr Li Ailan, WHO representative to Cambodia, and a Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital medical team on a visit to the Cambodian-Thai border in Banteay Meanchey, Battambang and Pailin provinces to provide support for health officials in their efforts to prevent the entry of COVID-19 from neighbouring countries.