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Returning diplomats told to self-quarantine as sources confirm new case

Sun Mesa / Khmer Times Share:
A health workers sprays disinfectant on a doctor near an isolation room where a 65-year-old British woman monitored in Kampong Cham province. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn has ordered returning diplomats from overseas to self-quarantine for 14 days as a safety precaution amid COVID-19 fears.

The minister issued the order as three sources confirmed a ministry official tested positive for the novel coronavirus after visiting France.

“Anyone returning from a mission abroad, especially in countries where the disease is raging, must self-isolate for 14 days,” Mr Sokhonn said. “Delay missions to some countries for one month, except in cases of emergency.”

“Postpone meetings with foreign guests. If this cannot be done, please do not shake hands and stand half a metre away from them,” he added. “If it is possible to work from home, please do it.”

According to the World Health Organization, there have been 153,517 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 5,735 deaths worldwide as of Sunday.

WHO said there have been 4,469 recorded cases in France, including 829 new ones as of Sunday. Ninety-one COVID-19 deaths have been reported in the European state.

Here, there have been 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection as of yesterday evening, but the diplomat who returned from France could be Cambodia’s 13th case.

According to three reliable sources from the Kingdom’s public health sector, the diplomat is being quarantined.

“We tested him in Cambodia and the result was positive for COVID-19,” one health official said. “The identity of the senior official has not been revealed.”

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry, yesterday said the patient tried to attend a meeting last week in France, where another guest tested positive for COVID-19.

“The meeting was cancelled because a member of a delegation [the guest] tested positive for COVID-19,” Mr Kuong said, noting the Cambodian patient tested negative in France before returning to the Kingdom.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine yesterday said the COVID-19 infection  is spreading in Cambodia.

“The Health Ministry would like to call on individuals to protect themselves and maintain good hygienic,” Ms Vandine said.

The Health Ministry late Sunday night confirmed four new COVID-19 cases.

The ministry in a press release said the virus was detected in a four-month-old French baby, a Cambodian citizen who returned from France and two Cambodians who returned to the Kingdom after attending a religious congregation in Malaysia.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday said some people have accused the government of covering up the number of COVID-19 patients in the Kingdom.

“Cambodia is working closely with relevant partners, especially the WHO,” Mr Hun Sen said. “There is no reason to hide information about patients who tested positive for the virus.”

“If we hide information, the act would be pointless because those who were infected would let the public know,” he added.

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